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3 Lessons in Writing (and Great Stories) From the Super Bowl

Like most writers, there’s not much I love more than a great story. And when you look beyond the creative new commercials, over-the-top halftime entertainment and an excuse to (over)indulge in beer and bar food, story is the real reason even non-fans tune in to the Super Bowl every year. There are incredibly human moments at the heart of all major sporting events—and as writers, we don’t have to look far to find inspiration that can be applied to our own work.

1. Beneath every great story is an even better story.

On the surface, the Super Bowl is a championship game and all the spectacle that comes with it. But look at today’s coverage, and you’ll see it’s not just about who won. It’s about, among other things, a character transformation. As I watched the commentary on Eli Manning’s performance on every channel this morning, I couldn’t help but be swept up in the story of it all. No more should he be thought of as “Peyton Manning’s little brother,” or “Archie Manning’s youngest son,” announcers proclaimed. In a family of all-star quarterbacks, he may have just solidified his place as the best of the bunch.

Look again at whatever story you’re currently writing. What is it really about? What other great stories are just beneath the surface?

2. Challenge assumptions about your writing.

Did the Giants’ victory change things overnight? Not necessarily. Many expert commentators felt that Eli had been the better athlete for a long time, only no one had taken notice. And I’m not sure Eli was any less surprised than anyone else was to hear himself being referred to as the elite Manning.

What did you once believe about your writing that is no longer true? What changes have been so gradual that they’ve escaped notice? What do others believe about your writing that may no longer be true? How can you prove yourself and change those perceptions?

3. Start fresh every day.

Did you blow your diet on hot wings last night? Were you too tired to meet your daily word count before bed? If you have an off day or fall short of a goal, there’s nothing to be gained from beating yourself up about it. Today is a new chance to get it right. (Still feeling sluggish? Try one of our daily writing prompts.)

In the NFL, the Giants will have their victory parade—but everyone else will be looking ahead to the next season. Because we all know that next year at this time, it will be someone else’s story. And the work that goes into telling it starts right now.

Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest

Follow me on Twitter: @jessicastrawser
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