I decided to call this blog “The Way of the Pen”, after reading Eiji Fushikawa’s brilliant samurai epic, Musashi. One of the key themes of the novel revolved around the idea of The Art of War, or The Way of the Sword.
The Way of the Sword wasn’t just about learning to fight. It was about travelling, it was about interacting with people, it was about trying to learn and experience as much as you could, as much as life had to offer.
As a former martial artist, I loved this idea—and I see a lot of parallels between the Martial Arts and the Arts themselves. It’s my belief that although the craft of writing and improvement at it has to be the focus of your journey as an artist, every other thing you learn and experience is going to help you improve at the craft.
The more experience you have, the more experience you can write from. Can you write about the thrills of hanging on by the smallest handhold, hundreds of feet up the side of a mountain if you’ve never actually rock climbed or gone mountaineering? Well of course you can. That’s called imagination, and it’s part of what writing is about.
But, there are many examples of people’s imaginations leading them astray. My own expertise in martial arts often sees me rolling my eyes at what people imagine might work in a fight. Gain every experience you can, and research the ones you can’t, and talk to people who work in those fields about their experiences.
Ask people about the experiences that shaped them as humans. Ask them what they imagine their purpose in life to be. Ask them their biggest dream, Ask them what they love most in the world. And then build characters based on the answers you hear.
Every experience I get flows through to my writing. Join me, and follow The Way of the Pen.