The Importance Of Fouling Off

Listeners of Shawn Blanc’s daily podcast for members of his site, Shawn Today (and shame on you if you aren’t) will remember a recent episode “On Showing Up”. Shawn talked about how essential it is to just show up to write, every single day. This reminded me so much of what I’ve been trying to do here by posting five days a week on the site and turned my thoughts to one of my favorite parts of baseball.

I’m not only a baseball fan, but I’m a Mets fan, which makes me a baseball fan of a very, very bad baseball team1. Most people enjoy a hit, they love a home run, they want to see a grand slam. As a Mets fan, you don’t see a ton of any of those, so you learn enjoy parts of the game that are boring to most. You learn to enjoy when a batter can’t manage to get a hit, but doesn’t seem willing to quit. They swing the bat and continue to foul off the pitch. They stay at bat until they can manage to get a hit, a walk, or more often than not, strike out.

It’s just as often unintentional as it is a tactic, but there’s something important in the persistence of fouling off. To the continual swinging of the bat, even without success. As writers and especially as bloggers, we quit to often far too early. We get frustrated and stop swinging the bat. We watch the pitches go by and guarantee a strikeout. In our own impatience, we don’t even bother to play out the at bat.

While I’ve been blogging for over three years, I’ve only been doing it consistently for just shy of a year (more on this next week). In that time, I’ve had my fair share of hits, a few home runs and more than my share of strikeouts. None of those experiences come close to the benefit of posting five days a week, even when you consider that several of those posts were simply fouling off the ball. Continuing to swing the bat when I couldn’t get a hit and hoping to stay alive long enough to start getting hits again. Writer’s block was not an excuse; busy was not an excuse; out of ideas was not an excuse. There needed to be five posts a week and the only way that was going to happen was to swing the bat.

Over time, I’m hoping that there are less and less of these posts. As I improve, I want you to see more hits, less strikeouts and fewer fouls. But had it not been for all of those times I tipped the ball off only so I could swing again, you wouldn’t be reading these words right now.

  1. well, we’re having a somewhat decent start, but that’s a different post for another blog that I don’t write  

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