Photo by Jason Briscoe, Unsplash.com
I trained martial arts when I was in high school. Even though I didn’t realize it back then, the lessons I’ve learned in the dojo had a huge impact on my mindset as writer.
- Learn to show up after you lost – Each time you open an empty page during writer’s block. Each time you send a book to the publishers after having been rejected. Each time you start a marketing strategy even though the last one didn’t go too well. It’s like showing up in the dojo after the last training that hurt you and bruised your ego. The ones that show up in the dojo week after week are the ones who have most chances of getting the next belt. The only one who cares that you failed is… you! This is why you need to overcome yourself and show up. Those who try, succeed.
- You’ve been punched? Punch back harder! – So, you’ve been punched. By your father who tells you to give up writing. By your teachers who says that you writing is chaotic. By the readers, who completely ignored your first book. By the bloggers, who reviewed it poorly. By your ex bestie, who writes you even more poor reviews. You’ve been punched, in your stomach, in your heart, in your head. In your freaking face! And it hurts so much. And you want to cry. But do you know what you need to do? Show up and punch back harder. Show them what you’ve got. Publish an even better book. Get even more positive reviews. Take selfies with faithful fans! Show that you are not giving up!
- A Black belt (bestseller / bestwritten) is possible, just improbable – I have read somewhere on the internet that the probability a new karate adept earns a black belt is quite small. Did you realize that a lot of times when we want to say “improbable” we say “impossible”? Your big dream (landing on the bestseller / bestwritten list) is like a black belt. Improbable, but perfectly possible! If nobody has told it to you yet, I will: you can do it! You can make it to the top. Do you know how many disabled people with black belts are there? Many. What counts is your spirit. Cultivate invincibility. Black belts are not for the weak. So don’t be weak. You decide your writing routine and you stick to it. You choose your literary agents and run after them. You show up with a new book and you post the news everywhere. Keep fighting! And get prepared for a long journey – some authors succeed with their debut, others are yet to make their name. As Drew Houston said, “you only have to be right once”.
- Fair play is very important – don’t cheat, don’t play dirty. Don’t plagiarize, don’t use shady methods to gain popularity fast, don’t undermine other authors. This only shows that you are desperate to win, can’t accept defeat and have a very low self-esteem. Stick to real values, which are fair play, true effort, sacrifice and patience. It will pay off. And you will be proud that you played by the rules.
- Respect your opponents – during the breaks between the fights, we helped each other practice, talked from the heart, laughed and overall had great time! This is how your relationship with other authors are supposed to look like. Talk about your stories, read and review them, share valuable resources. There is place for everyone in the book business. If you write a great book in the category A and your friend writes a great book in the same category… Your reader will buy both books! The success of our friends is our success: they will inspire us, show us the path and promote us. The world is so big, and I assure you that your “five minutes” will come and nobody can take them away from you.
- Strive to be better than who you were yesterday, not to be better than everyone. If you are obsessed about being better than everyone else, then you probably have a real inferiority complex that needs adressing. The healthiest approach to the fights is to try to overcome yourself and your weakness. Stop self-hating. Stop hiding in front of a computer screen. Show up with your imperfect work.
- It’s a continuous learning – and it’s not a shame to not know something. You are here to learn… Wouldn’t it be horrible if you reached one point from which you can’t improve anymore? Imagine that for a moment. You’ve reached the top of your possibilities. You can’t do better. Dreadful! So, embrace the fact that you don’t know everything and be grateful for all the knowledge that you are yet to learn! Be willing to take new lessons and improve yourself. Enjoy the journey, so that you can savor the rest at your destination.