Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Disciplined Habit of Excellence in the Art

Faith is a state of mind that can be conditioned through self-discipline. Faith will accomplish.”—Bruce Lee.

The muse drives the writer to write, to create, and to pursue the lonely path of being an artist. The world of writing has changed with the advent of the e-publishing. Every writer, from the self-published to the high ranked traditionally published author, fights for an audience. Questions abound right now in the writing industry, and often seem to pit the level of writer against each other on paper. The debates are often along the line of “Self-Publishing is great” vs. “Traditional Publishing is where you must be to prove you are a writer.” Where ever you fall in this debate is irrelevant for the debate itself is irrelevant beyond the surface.

As writers we often ask ourselves or get asked by others in the business, “What sets you apart from other writers? Why should I read your story or even consider publishing your works? What makes you so arrogant that anyone would want to read what you have written?” These questions, while they can be annoying, must be recognized for their origin. They grow out of the world around us, a world filled with mediocrity. Be it in books, television, music, art, or even if you have a “day job” we are surrounded by mediocrity. The level of mediocrity causes the world to become excited when anything that even feels new comes out and leads the traditional publishers to chase this new trend.

What then makes you stand out? What defines your brand, your story telling, you as a unique artist? It is what you produce. Do you chase the mediocre? Are you chasing the trend, the scheme to try to stand out or are you devoting yourself to the discipline and habit of excellence in writing?

Excellence is unusual and thus standsout. Many believe that excellence is the creation of the new idea, the new genre. It isn’t. Excellence in the art goes far beyond, and yet can stay within the known genre. Excellence is noteworthy. Excellence goes beyond talent. Excellence goes beyond the mundane mechanics of writing. Excellence comes from repeated habit and rejection of the mediocre. It may be hard to see this in action of writing, though it is in the written words. Let us then look at excellence outside of writing.

The easiest place to find excellence is in sports and the martial arts. As a martial artist, no one who is mediocre can ever (honestly) achieve the rank of Black Belt. Every martial artist practices for hours, days, weeks, months, years repeating the same techniques over and over again. The Black Belt takes this practice seriously. It becomes a part of their life. Even when they are sitting and seem to be doing nothing, the techniques go through their mind and how they can perform the techniques better. The Black Belt focuses on the tiny details, the slight shift of stance, the single strike, even the tiniest of breath.

This same level of dedication to the habit of excellence that separates the average fighter from the master of martial arts is the same separation of mediocre writer from the writer of excellence. Excellence is not the habit of sitting down to write. Excellence is the habit of sitting down to write excellently—which requires unending learning and sharpening the writing skills. This dedication to excellence makes the work of our writing timeless.

Thank you for reading and please visit and You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLensYou can also find me on Facebook at

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Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

1 comment:

  1. Draft freely as the muse dictates, then craft excellently.