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Friday, June 19, 2015

Black Belt in Writing-Part 3

I started this topic more than a year ago, with my last blog in this series on February 1, 2014. Wow, it's been quite a while hasn't it?  But that makes sense when you think about it because earning a black belt takes time and whole lot of patience. So, just for a bit of review, let's check out our belt ranks again, shall we?


Beginner:
White Belt= ideas bouncing around your head, what to do, what to do...
Yellow Belt=a notebook!  write those ideas down girl or guy...
Orange Belt= These ideas are all over the place but at least they are in one book...
Intermediate:
Green Belt=We have a theme! Now to get these ideas sorted...
Purple Belt=I have the meat, but where are the potatoes?
Blue Belt=Slicing and dicing...these characters are starting to seem real...
Advanced
Red Belt=Backstory?  What the heck is backstory?
Brown Belt=It has a flow!  It actually makes sense as I read it...
Brown/Black or Red/Black=Review, edit, read...review, edit, read...
Black Belt=ready to publish!  Self pub or not, either way you are ready...SUBMIT!
Higher Black Belt Degrees=ALL OF THE ABOVE, all the time...(King, Rowling, Patterson, Cornwell, you get the idea)

Remember, the different belt levels are as I perceive them and are of course open to interpretation. 

So what do you do when you feel stuck in a given level? Do you try another direction, a different idea? 
There are ideals in martial arts that are pretty much universal. One ideal that speaks to the heart of any writer is the ideal of PERSEVERANCE. 


As writers, learn to live that word. We push on through the writer's block, through the mistakenly deleted files, through the crashed hard drive, through the dog eating your notebook. We overcome and persevere because the story lives inside you. 
Granted, as a Beginner-you might lose it a bit when something like that happens to you. I know I did. I lost four of the most emotional, angst ridden pages I had ever written. I thought I was going to lose it. Yup, the person I got miffed with would probably say that I did but I say nah...

I rewrote and worked in the feeling of loss I was personally feeling in that moment and guess what, it worked.

As an Intermediate level writer (based on the belt ranks again), it still hurts when something like that happens, but you deal with it better. You've learned perseverance. You work that newly found strength into your writing. Your protagonist has a strength you didn't know they had.  Your antagonist, a significant chink in their armor.  Every time you persevere your writing gets better.

So as an Intermediate belt, how are you feeling about your work? Are you happy with it? Does it speak to you, or do you suddenly realize that what you are currently writing is infinitely better written than what you initially wrote as a beginner.

Just as with Martial Arts, we practice the same things over and over which just makes us better.  That ugly kick you had as a yellow belt is positively magical as a blue belt. Imagine what you can do with it when you're a black belt. 

So what am I trying to say with all this? Just this: effort = results
The more you work at it the better you become and at each writing level you expand your knowledge and hone your craft just that much more.

As I said previously, when you go from practicing lets say Karate to practicing Jujitsu, you start as a white belt again.  You may progress through the ranks more quickly than before but you still start from the beginning.  Now using the jujitsu analogy is an interesting one.  They generally have less belts though they do offer progress stripes as you unlock/master the next level in your training.  The same is true with writing.  The idea of writing is the same, but a different genre?  How do you go from pure romance to science fiction, or from paranormal to crime drama?  By going back to the beginning.

My suggestion/advice. Read, write, ask questions, listen to conversations, eavesdrop on arguments, research the science you are writing about, outline and flesh out the world you are creating. Leave no stone unturned, just remember though that with each new novel, short story, novelette or poem, you're back to white belt again.

Keep in mind that it is entirely possible and probable that you will be an orange belt while writing your mystery novel and a red belt writing your short story.  Try to keep them straight and remember that writing is very much a juggling act as ideas fight to get written and acted upon by you the writer.
Yep, that's me.  L.E.Perez

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