Fire: The Way of Writing – Part 4 of 6

samuariblue.jpg“You cannot profit from small techniques when full armor is used.”- Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Traditionally, the element of fire represents passion and inspiration. But fire also represents action. In writing, these representations combine. Passion is the fire that inspires and moves us into action.

Musashi’s section on fire in the Book of 5 Rings deals directly with various strategies involved in Japanese swordplay. Each technique has a name and a specific set of moves that apply.

In writing, you’re not cutting down or outwitting an enemy. If anything, you’re trying to gain readership and influence people. So how can you stir the passion of your fire and use it to fuel your actions as a writer?

Small techniques won’t do when you need to make grand gestures to gain attention. Fire does nothing halfway.

Crossing at the Ford

Musashi titles his lesson well, teaching us to have faith in moving ahead and learning how to blaze our own trail. Musashi says, “It means setting sail even when your friends stay in the harbor.”

Following the crowd is fine, but sooner or later, you have to trust in your skills and say good-bye to the rest of the pack. You aren’t abandoning those who helped you along the way. Instead, you’re taking the lead.

You might be surprised at who follows.

Become the Enemy

Musashi teaches about the strategy of warfare. Writers don’t have any enemies but they do have competition. Study your competition and learn what makes them great.

What are the big-name writers doing right? What makes them so successful? How can you use the techniques they do?

Then do better. Add your own unique spin on the strategies and become the enemy.


Network! Get out there and mingle with your peers. Pick their brains and learn from them. Find a mentor who has been there before and learn from that person. Get coaching and training to improve what you have so that you can be better.

Before you know it, people will be asking you what your secrets are.


In nature, fire brings new life. We view natural disasters as tragic events, but they do offer a very important renewal in life’s cycle. Fire burns dead trees and debris to make way for new growth, creating a healthy forest. Without destruction, forests smother themselves and limit their potential.

The same concept applies to your ideas and projects. If something isn’t working right, tear it down. Start over. Don’t be afraid to scrap an article, a chapter, or a website in order to make it better.

The Body of a Rock

“When you have mastered the way of strategy you can suddenly make your body like a rock, and ten thousand things cannot touch you. This is the body of a rock. You will not be moved.” – Oral Tradition

Rocks cannot burn and be eliminated by fire. When you remain focused on your goals, nothing sways you from that path. Stick to it, don’t give up, and achieve your dreams.

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