The Way of Writing – Part 1 of 6

katana.jpg“Do nothing which is of no use.” – Miyamoto Musashi

While cleaning off my bookshelves, I came across a book I hadn’t read in years: Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. I bought it back when I studied martial arts in the mid-80s.

At the time, the Book of Five Rings was a big hit in the corporate world. Musashi’s teachings proved useful in the art of kenjitsu (the sword) and in the business world as well. Many CEOs studied his writings on tactics meant for warfare, applying them to the boardroom.

Some people saw this as insight to the Japanese mindset. They studied Musashi in an attempt to understand what made the Japanese such successful businessmen.

How could I apply Musashi’s lessons to writing?

Musashi stresses throughout his book that reading about how to do something isn’t enough. Study combined with practical application is the only way to improve skills.

You could read all the content in the world on how to write and promote yourself as a writer, but unless you actively put this knowledge into practice, you’ll get nowhere.

Musashi breaks down his lessons into five sections he calls books: Ground, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void. Each of these elements represents the various aspects of battle. I want to explore each of these five elements to see how they relate to writing.

Here’s a taste of what’s to come:

Ground: Building your foundation

You have to start somewhere, right? What skills do you need to write well? What can you do to build up the necessary aspects in yourself that you need to make it in the writing business?

Water: Adaptability

Not everything goes as planned. Floods happen, dry spells starve your business (or your creativity.) The ebb and flow of tides occurs regularly. How do you adapt to the obstacles that arise?

Fire: Taking Action

Timing is everything, and you need to know when to take action and when to step back. Do you let someone else dictate how the game is played, or do you take command of the rules? What fires your passion and helps you spread it across the world?

Wind: Style

Being unique in the face of millions of others around you is difficult. What’s your own personal style? Have you found it yet, or are you still searching? Do the winds blow you where they will, or do use them and set sail?

The Void: Attitude

How do you pull together all the elements and make them work for you to achieve your goals and ultimately, success?

Much like martial arts, writing is more than a job or a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. If you want to be successful in your writing endeavors, you have to live, breathe, and eat words. You can’t sit back on the sidelines and hope to be noticed.

If your words stay as thoughts in your head, how is the world going to know how great you are?

Welcome to my writing dojo.


(Reprinted from JCME Web Content Writer Tips )

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