Wednesday, October 28, 2015


by Bethany Maines

I was thinking this morning about how much writing is like karate.  Actually, to be perfectly honest, everything is like karate. You’re laughing right now.  I can hear it all the way through the internet. (Although, that might be the photo.)

While teaching karate I occasionally make such lofty statements, and my students laugh too. They refer to those as their “sensei-ism of the day.” The philosophy of karate is to bring the body and the mind into harmony and to learn to be aware of not only what the body is doing, but what it is not doing.  The problem with that kind of talk is that it sounds like a lot of wishy-washy, new age gibberish to a lot of people. But if we think about it in an applied way, we can see that it makes sense. Simply putting your body through a work out (though beneficial) is not as effective as practicing with intention, awareness, and a plan for future.

Writing is the same way. Some writing, any writing is better than no writing in the same way that taking the stairs is better than absolutely no exercise for the rest of the day. But it isn’t an actual work out. If you simply type some crap up without any thought about plot development, theme, or structure you end up with a mish-mash of nonsense that only your relatives will want to read.

When you practice writing with the goal of keeping to one point of view or developing theme through word choice you become aware of those techniques in other writers and in your own writing. These exercises aren’t rules being forced down my throat; that is me choosing to pursue a goal as an exercise. And this philosophy can expand to any other pursuit.

So, dear readers, your sensei-ism of the day is: whatever your passion, practice it with intention and perseverance.  And life is like karate. Now go have an crane stance-ing, waxing on, awesome type of day.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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