• Brian Kelley

A First Step


This sketch represents one step for a football player. (Specifically, the first step of a defensive lineman.)


At least ten components (marked on the sketch) have to be executed correctly together to have a chance at success on the second and third steps--all of which takes about a second or two in real time.


Each component is coachable.

Each individual component can be taught separately through many different drills. We can walk through the paces inside, or practice the isolated pieces with some tempo in a t-shirt and shorts on the field by ourselves, or we can go full-speed against teammates in full equipment--and everything in between.


Learning how to teach a football player to improve takes breaking down something as basic as one first step into many mutually dependent parts.


I imagined this sketch last night and drew it this morning because I have been thinking about all of the pieces a young writer must practice in order to take one successful step forward. Our experiences reading, conversing, walking and moving, drawing --freely grappling with our thinking--alongside of the guidance of a coach or mentor impacts who we become next. If any of these pieces are not in place for an adolescent (among many others) then a young writer's first step resembles a scuffle and a then a stumble. Second and third steps may seem out of reach.


But like my football player example above, each component of becoming a better writer is coachable. Young writers need models--you and the books they are exposed to.

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