Like him or loathe him, Bruce Lee’s popularity is responsible for single-handedly converting an entire generation to martial arts. As a Wing Chun instructor, though not a fan of his films, I respect him for spreading the teachings of the art, and I often find myself quoting his wisdoms of kung fu. With the commitment, discipline, and perseverance required to write a book, I find many parallels between the art of writing and the art of fighting. Lee himself was the author of a number of books on martial arts and philosophy. Not surprising then, that many of his tenets on kung fu can be just as equally applied to the craft of writing.
Here are 5 things the martial arts icon has taught me about writing as an art form:
GIVEAWAY: J.C. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere in the world. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: cindylorene won.)
Guest column by J.C. Martin, a butt-kicking bookworm:
when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and
self-defense to children and adults. Born and raised in Malaysia,
she now lives in London, England, with her husband and three
dogs. ORACLE (month), a crime thriller set in London in the
run-up to the Olympics, is her first novel. Visit her website at
www.jc-martin.com. She also blogs here.
1. “Be like water.”
I couldn’t resist including this classic! To expand on this quote: “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow.”
As writers, we’ve probably read numerous how-to books on honing your craft, expounding hundreds of writing guidelines. Notice I didn’t use the word ‘rules’, but ‘guidelines’, because that is what they are: suggestions that could help improve your writing, but ultimately do what you feel is best for your manuscript. Guidelines should be your measuring stick, not your crutch.
As Lee also said, “Obey the principles without being bound by them.”
2. “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
Don’t try and become the next Rowling or Hocking or King. Carbon copies never surpass the originals. Find your own strengths. Forge your own path.
3. “I fear not the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times.”
We are all tempted at some point to dabble in multiple genres. Whilst this may keep your writing fresh, it will not do you any favors when it comes to getting published. There are subtle differences between genres that one has to master first. Focus on refining the elements of one genre that you are happy to stick to for the long term, and consider diversifying only after you have established yourself.
4. “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
We may never make it to the New York Times bestsellers list, and the majority of us will never get published by one of the big six. But there is no harm in aiming high. Someone with no goal will wander around aimlessly, and will most likely misspend their time and energy focusing on the wrong things.
5. “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
What is the main difference between someone who says “I want to write a book” and someone who actually has? So what are you waiting for? Get to it!
GIVEAWAY: J.C. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere in the world. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Cindylorene won.)
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- What’s In a Title? Everything.
- NEW Agent Seeking Clients: Rachel Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary.
- Discussing Credentials in a Nonfiction Book Proposal.
- Literary Agent Interview: Lori Perkins, Founder of L. Perkins Associates.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.