Write Now: Hearing A Phrase Makes You Stop And Ponder About Context

Sometimes, you hear a phrase.

And it lingers awhile.

You hear the phrase, and immediately you understand the context in which it was said.

I recently heard a phrase and it made me ponder a bit.

“You need to see the whole field.”

When I heard it, I thought of an athlete focusing on his game — not the game. He was in his zone trying to be the best. Usually that phrase is reserved for certain sports positions like a quarterback in football, a guard in basketball, a catcher or centerfielder in baseball, and maybe a goalie in hockey and soccer.

Athletes in those positions “see the whole field” and make strategic plans according to what they see. Believe me, “you need to see the whole field” to be in one of those positions as those positions can bring good and bad stressors.

A quarterback eyes the defense and sometimes calls an audible at the line to change the given play that was called in from the sideline. A catcher may give a different sign to the pitcher in order to maybe retire the side, or a centerfielder may tell give the sign to make a shift to compensate for the way the batter hits a baseball. The guard, bringing the ball down court, looks at the defense and may give the signal with his free hand or he may yell out some words, so his team can get in position to score.

Whatever the sports situation, those players are seeing the whole field to increase winning chances for their teams. Those athletes are not just seeing how their positions are affecting the game, but how every position is affecting the game’s outcome. So, if they give direction, it’s because they see the whole field in a different light than other players.

So, I was thinking how can “seeing the whole field” approach benefit writers?

It turns out the approach can benefit writers.

Writers need to see more than just what they are writing.

Yes, in order to get started, a writer must first get his idea to the page. Sometimes getting that idea to the page takes one word at a time. Next, it’s one sentence, then one paragraph.

But the writer still needs to look beyond just the one word and focus on his game — the paper, article, the book.

A writer also “needs to see the whole field” in order to get his message across.

He needs to know his audience.

He needs to know the writing process.

And he needs to know what message he is sending.

When a writer “sees the whole field” it may become more clear on how to get to the end of a project. I am not saying all projects should be done quickly because each project will take as long as it takes. The point I am trying to make is that when a writer can see the beginning, middle and ending, the writer may see all components of his project which in turn will make the writer see the whole field. When he “sees the whole field” he may be able to, like a quarterback, call an audible to change out what won’t work, and insert what will work. It’s a new process a writer can tackle, no pun intended, that will work in concert with the writing process. This sub process may be part of the revising and editing portion of the writing process.

So when you are writing your next paper, article, or book, don’t be afraid to try to “see the whole field.” At first it may be daunting and you may back into your comfort zone, but if you keep at it, you may find it will enhance your writing and make writing more enjoyable.

It’s that easy.

It’s that hard.