“Other schools make accomplishments their means of livelihood, growing flowers and decoratively coloring articles in order to sell them. This is definitely not the Way of strategy.”– Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of 5 Rings
It’s been windy in the desert lately. With no trees or tall buildings to block the wind, it sweeps across the land and gives us desert dwellers a good shake.
Wind is interesting to observe, though. It picks up bits and pieces from miles away to carry them to someplace new. The wind carries seeds from plants and drops them in places where new sprouts can flourish.
Like the wind, ideas have the ability to sweep through your thoughts to carry them to a new location.
Musashi says, “In strategy you must know the ways of other schools.” To grow as a writer, you need to study other schools of thought and see what the rest of the world is doing.
If you get caught in a rut, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Your writing grows stale.
My Way or the Highway
I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase often. Holding hard and fast to an idea only takes you so far. You might think your way is the right one, but you cut yourself off at the roots of creativity.
In writing, there is no right or wrong way to do anything – except when it comes to the rules of grammar and spelling. The rest is mostly subjective and left to personal preference.
In Musashi’s day, there were several schools of thought for training with swords. Some schools preferred the long sword, others the short sword, and others preferred to use both. Many of these schools thought their way was the better one. In reality, no single strategy was the best.
I’ve often told James to take the best and leave the rest. Take a look at how others do things. You don’t have to do the same, but rather take only what works for you. Pull the best from several resources.
Be like the wind passing through, picking up a few seeds here and there.
The Spirit of the Strong Long Sword
“If you rely on strength, when you hit the enemy’s sword you will inevitably hit too hard” – Miyamoto Musashi
Even the wind can be too strong. A heavy-handed approach isn’t always a good idea. Use some finesse. Trying to force your ideas down the throats of others only builds resentment. If you face someone just as strong in approach, you’re in for a long, exhausting battle that probably leads both of you anywhere.
Musashi also said, “There is no inner meaning in sword attitudes. You must simply keep your spirit true to realize the virtue of strategy.”
Don’t look for any single way to define your style. Ride the wind. Let your style evolve without forcing it. You might have to travel a great distance and go through many schools of thought before you find the system that works best for you.