Five Ways Writing is Like Karate
1. The details matter. When you’re blocking a punch, specifics like posture, stance, the angle of your arm, and its distance from your body are all important. When you kick, you need to chamber the leg, angle the foot just right. Little changes can have a large effect. This is similar to writing and word choice. The thesaurus provides several options for “walk,” but there’s a big difference between a stroll, a march, and a hike. Precise language (and grammar and structure) can elevate a piece of writing.
4. Deadlines combined with a goal can be motivating. There’s nothing like a tournament or testing for a promotion to get martial artists to practice more, to examine and fix even the smallest body movements. Writing more consistently tends to happen with a looming revision due date, a contest deadline, or a synopsis to complete before a conference. Then it feels like each word is examined in a new way, each sentence polished. Use deadlines to your advantage.
5. Learning is a continuous process. In the martial arts, there is a cultural aspect, a physical part, a mental component, and a philosophical piece. Memorizing one (or even seventeen) kata doesn’t necessarily make someone accomplished. Having one novel finished (or published) doesn’t make someone a master at writing. There is never a total sense of being done, even after a closing bow or typing “the end.” The opportunity for continued growth and learning is why I stay committed to both these arts.