What Ju-Jitsu Can Teach Us About Writing
I don’t believe anything in life is wasted. And now that I am a blogger? Definitely NOTHING gets wasted. Everything I have ever been through can be a lesson. Years ago, I taught Ju-Jitsu. Hey, I sucked at sports and was a nerd, and martial arts goes with the territory so you can at least defend yourself from being stuffed in a locker. I had nunchucks, too, and knew how to use them. I tell you, my nerd card was stellar.
So what does this have to do with writing? We’ll get there, Grasshopper.
Ju-Jitsu, like Judo, involves being thrown…a lot. So to even survive your first belt, you have to learn how to fall. In fact, you cannot move beyond white belt until you learn to fall from all directions. It is important to learn how to fall. Why? First of all, falling is scary.
If I told you to stand and then just drop straight back, could you do it? Most people, unless trained, can’t do this without hurting something vital. So for the Ju-Jitsu student, a lot of learning to fall is overcoming fear. Also, we don’t just fall. If we just FELL, we would break bones. No, there is a method to falling and it involves understanding energy and redirecting it into the ground. When you fall you learn to direct all your momentum in a smooth flow and slap the ground, transferring the energy of your fall into the earth.
When I first signed up for Ju-Jitsu, I thought I was going to learn some kick-ass moves like in the movies. Yeah…um, no. I didn’t get to learn any moves. Why? I had to learn to fall first. When I heard that, I almost gave up and signed up somewhere else. I wanted to look cool, and falling was not for the cool. Ah, but I really loved those Steven Segal moves and Ju-Jitsu was the closest thing Fort Worth, Texas had to offer in the 90s, so I stayed.
First, I just fell on squishy padded mats. Hundreds of times until I thought my head would explode from hitting the mats incorrectly. Ah, but then one day—6,798 falls into my practice, something clicked. I started to hit the mat properly. I could hear that the sound was more of a snap as I smoothly fell in one fluid motion. I fell from both sides—to the left, to the right—I fell straight backwards. I fell from sitting, then from a squatting position and then, finally from a standing position. I had to learn how to fall and fall well.
After I mastered falling on the pads, I then had to learn to fall on concrete. WHAT? Yes, concrete. In real world altercations, there are no mats. I had to learn to fall in the parking lot just as smoothly as I did in the studio. I had to become a master at falling before I was ever introduced to anything else. Everything in Ju-Jitsu hinged on how well I could take a fall.
I had to fall in ways that I could smoothly roll to my feet and resume a fighting stance almost immediately. Better than that. I had to learn how to use the energy of my fall to fuel my next attack.
Same with writing. Our future success hinges on how well we learn to fall.
I will be blunt, because I care about you guys and your future. Writing will involve a hell of a lot of falls. I have fallen…a lot. Know how we get good at falling? Only one way. We must fall. Over and over and over. Writing and Ju-Jitsu have a lot in common. Fear of falling is what must be conquered first.
I remember when I first started writing I hid behind a cutesy moniker and never introduced myself as a writer. I only wrote when I felt particularly inspired and was more in love with the idea of being a best-selling author than the work ethic it entailed. And you know what? I never progressed.
Falling is part of writing.
Not everything we write is worthy of publication. That first novel might just be practice. Sometimes we have to let go and try again and again and again and admit we didn’t do it the right way. Some writers have a finished novel, but are terrified to show it to a critique group or even send out a query letter. We can’t go forward until we face rejection and live to fight another day.
Same with blogging. I meet writers all the time who won’t blog out of fear they won’t have anything interesting to say. Maybe not, but we learn by doing. I have people ask all the time about what to write on a blog. I can give some basics, but beyond that???? We have to fall. We put stuff out there and if it doesn’t get readers excited, we try something different. This is why blogging multiple times a week can be so beneficial. It give us more data, more ability to see what is resonating versus what is a flop.
When we first start blogging as nobody unpublished writers, we are falling from a sitting position on squishy mats. If our blog sucks, who are we going to alienate? Our five closest writer friends and some spam bots? Get good at falling!
WE MUST FALL….OVER, AND OVER AND OVER. Bad novels, dumb ideas, boring blogs, bad days at critique groups, rejection letters, bad reviews. We must learn to not only fall well, but use the energy of our falls to fuel our next blog, book, etc.
Aw, crap! Rejection letter from my query….
To get good at falling, we must first overcome the fear of falling. We can never be masters of anything until we are no longer ruled by what we fear. We must practice until a fall is no longer a setback, just a change in directional energy that fuels our next attack. When we can master the art of falling, only then will we be on our way to our Writer Black Belt…the title of Career Author.
Okay my little Grasshoppers, what do you fear and why? How have you overcome fear? What ways can you put yourself out there more? Stretch your abilities and chance a fall? Any advice?
I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Quick Change–I am going to start announcing winners on MONDAYS. The way I have been doing it makes Friday carry into the next week and it gets weird. Also, this gives me the weekends to tally the names which will be easier on me. So MONDAY I will announce the winner.
Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.
My book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media hit THREE best-seller lists on Kindle last week. #2 in Computers & Technology, #13 in Authorship and #17 in Advertising. THANK YOU!!!!! This book is recommended by some of the biggest authors AND agents in New York, so make sure you pick up a copy if you don’t have one already.
Also, if you want to learn how to blog or even how to take your blogging to a level you never dreamed possible…get your copy of Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer today. This book hit #1 on the best-selling list in less than 48 hours thanks to all of YOU!!!!! Not only will this book help you learn to blog, but you will be having so much fun, you will forget you were supposed to be learning.
Until next time….