Putting the sport into writing

Sarah Knight 

Goal setting, agility, patience, commitment and overcoming adversity: the similarities between sport and writing are many and yet according to author Michael Robotham “sports are so different to writing.”

The day was cold and miserable, rain poured on the line of people eager to get inside and take part in the discussion with a panel of four writers, each with different specialist areas and degrees of investment in sport.

Crime writer P.M. Newton led the panel. For 13 years she worked in the NSW police force, and then left to experience more relaxing pastimes, such as listening to music in Mali and studying Buddhism in India. Her time away inspired an award-winning crime novel. The other panel members, along with Michael, were Melissa Lucashenko, the award-winning literary fiction writer, and author Malcolm Knox, who was a sportwriter and the previous cricket editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, is a Walkley award-winning investigative journalist and has written 14 books.

The panel kept the audience on its toes with questions on their past and ability to write, as well as their sporting experiences and interests. “You can achieve astonishing things by accident,” said Melissa, when asked about her sporting past. Their answers were punctuated with humor, and their ability to poke fun at themselves gave the audience a very real impression of these writers as down-to-earth people.

Michael Robotham: sport's different to writing

Michael Robotham: sport’s different to writing

Michael was the only one with sports journalism under his belt, but for him the similarities between writing and sport are not always clear. “I played rugby – the aggression you have against your opponent, well, you don’t tend to want to crash tackle your research,” he said.

As the discussion came to a close, the panel opened the floor to the audience. This question time gave an interesting insight into the mind of writers and their thought processes when undertaking a project. There were many aspiring writers in the crowd who were unsure of their work. Michael responded to one question concerning the ability to finish a story by saying “There comes a point with every writer where you doubt it, and hate it, and think who would ever read this? But like sport, you just push through.”