29 April 2012

Do Something

I've mentioned this before, but I feel it's worth mentioning again. Both because it's important and because the meaning evolves the farther you get into a hobby or a project or a goal or a dream.

I think the very first piece of advise I heard my original sensei utter was this: “Do Something.”

If an attacker is coming after you, don't just stand there. At the very least scream. Lash out, whack them with your purse (or man purse), kick them, jump back, punch them, run away...do something. Nothing will not help you. The cosmos can't work with nothing, but it (and you) can work with even the smallest action.

That's why, in my Kempo class, when a maneuver gets called out and I have one of those infamous “white board” moments (you know the one, when your brain suddenly gets wiped clean of everything that you need right then and all that stares back at you is a pristine, empty white board—if it had eyes, it would give you a slow blink) I do the second thing I ever learned. Defense Maneuver #6—front ball kick, step out and on guard. Sure, I might get punched or berated for not remembering what I was supposed to be doing, but I've never had an instructor (on a test or otherwise) totally take me out. When people stand there with the dumfounded look on their face, not moving—that's when things get nasty.

The same goes for writing. Especially at the beginning. If you want to write an amazing novel or story, and you never put words on paper, then it's a sure bet that your “dream” of being published will never happen. However, if you sit your butt down and do something toward your goal everyday, then eventually you'll get there. It took me six years to get my black belt. Some people do it in two or three, others take five and still others ten. Those that get there faster put more work into it than I did. Sure, a few have a natural talent for the martial arts, but in general, people move faster because they put in the time and effort.

Now that I've received my black belt (something I actually laughed at an instructor for suggesting could happen someday) I have the same problem as before. There is so much Kung-Fu goodness floating around in my brain, that it's impossible for me to go through it all at once. Heck, I can't even remember it all—good thing I take notes sometimes. But the same “Do Something” applies. I have to (okay, I should) practice something everyday. I'm still progressing, but I also need to remember and stay familiar with the basics or I'll get lost and have to backtrack to review the simple things.

Working on plotting for months at a time is good, but if the skill of actual writing has been neglected, then when your fingers to the keyboard then things might be a little rusty. The opposite is true too. But if you don't do something, then nothing will ever get done. And once you've written a novel or two, it can be easy to forget those early lessons of characterization or suspense. It's a tricky balancing act that I'm not sure anyone wins, but playing is still important.

No matter where you are in your writing journey (or whatever your goal is) remember to do something. Anything. Don't neglect your dream, or it will slip away, leaving you at the same place you are now. And I don't know about anyone else, but I every once in a while I like to get a fresh view to look at.


Antiquarian said...

There is a line in Sunday in the Park with George that goes, "White; a blank page or canvas, so many possibilities." He then goes on to sing about making a hat where there never was a hat.

It's my favorite moment in that musical. I still cry thinking about it. The point is if we never put something down, never do something, create something, then we fail. It's not weather the novel gets published or not that matters it's the getting it created in the first place. - yep, just do it.

FYI have you ever read/use the artists way or Vain of Gold. You should take a look at those - they are good for keeping you doing stuff every day.

Anthony Dutson said...

That's true! I've always liked Nora Robert's quote, "I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank page."