Friday, May 4, 2007

What are you looking at?

A couple of years ago I was at a street fair where I happened to see a martial arts demonstration.
The man running it--the instructor of the studio--was being attacked by a student with a sword.
At each attack, he would deftly step aside and bring the attacker down. But that, of course, could have just been a set up; the student isn't really supposed to hit him.
But he was talking to the onlookers and saying (approximately): If you stare at the sword, and watch it, it is going to hit you. But look: the sword is only this thin width while there's a whole world around where the sword isn't. If you look away from the sword, then you know where to go to avoid the sword. Therefore, he said, do not look at the sword; look instead where you want to be.

That seems easier said than done when someone is swinging a sword at you. But I love the principle as a general principle in life.

It's a particularly good principle in the case of people who have some sort of fear-based writing block: they're so sure they're going to get rejected or get negative feedback that they write nothing (or nothing until it's too late to write something good), and then the response they get is basically the one they fear: their work is not good enough. They spend so much time focusing on the possible negative outcome--the sword they wish to avoid--that they bring the negative outcome on themselves.

Instead, look where you want to go, and reach for it. If you don't get there at first, keep your focus where you want to get, and use all the information available to figure out how to get there.

I started writing this post in May, 2007, and only now am finishing it--I don't know why I left is as an incomplete draft--perhaps I found that it was redundant to something else I had written. I didn't check all of my previous posts to see. I wonder a little at how the post will be dated by blogger--by the day I started it and first saved it as a draft, or by today, the day I last edited it and posted it? I'm sure those are the questions of a novice blogger, but so be it.