Featured On: AnneMercer.com
I have vivid memories of my first martial arts class. I wore a blue and red Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and matching zip-off shorts (the fashion statement of the late 90s). I anxiously waited in the lobby, watching the students complete feats of martial arts that would boggle the mind of any 10-year-old let alone an adult. Little did I know my life and career would be forever impacted thanks to a few kicks and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt.
With more than 15 years of training under my belt (a 3rd-degree black belt), I’ve learned quite a lot. However, three particular lessons have had a direct effect on my career as a writer.
Attention to Detail
If you’ve ever seen a martial arts film, you know just how articulate each move is. These prestigious martial artists never make a move without it being carefully calculated and executed.
Martial artists are obsessive about the tiniest of details. In training, I have spent 80% of a workout focused on the way my knee, ankle, and foot were rotating while kicking. Why do we hyper-focus on the details? Isn’t it all about power and dominance during a fight?
Just think: one wrong move during a fight and you’re in a vulnerable position or injured.
As a writer, the details are what make or break the project I’m working on. The details help communicate the specific intended message. Imagine if I published this blog post the minute I finished typing. What would be the result?
- I’d be embarrassed at the number of errors throughout.
- I’d tarnish the reputation I’ve built for myself as a detail-oriented writer.
- You wouldn’t have made it this far into the article. (Thanks for reading! There are more wonderful words below.)
There’s a reason content and campaigns go through multiple rounds of revisions and proofing. The minute your audience finds the tiniest mistake, they either leave your website (hello, high bounce rate) or chip away at the reputation you’ve created for your brand (hello, trolls).
Analyzing my every move, breath, and thought while practicing martial arts has led to a career of hyper-focused, detail-oriented content writing and copywriting.
I completed my martial arts training at a school that focuses on traditional practices. I didn’t go to a McDojo where they hand out black belts as fast as McDonald’s makes Big Macs (99 billion black belts trained?).
I’d be blatantly lying to you (while trying to keep from laughing hysterically) if I said earning my black belt was an easy feat. From the moment you tie a white belt around your waist, you’re faced with challenge after challenge. You won’t receive your black belt unless you persevere, tackle the challenges, and transform them into lifelong lessons.
Writer’s block can be a pain. No one is immune to this creative menace. The only way to conquer it is to persevere. Write every day, even if you despise the words on the page. You have to work through the roadblocks. Otherwise, you’ll stay stuck. Or worse — you’ll give up.
Working through these difficult situations is the only way to become a better writer, not only for yourself but also for your clients. My favorite quote about writing is from Dorothy Parker. She stated, “I hate writing, I love having written.”
This quote from Octavia E. Butler also drives home my point:
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
Writing can be such grunt work, especially when trying to demolish writer’s block. The only cure is to persevere.
Humility is defined as the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.
Upon starting my martial arts training at a young age, I couldn’t tell you what this word meant. Yet, I had to recite it each class as part of the 7 Tenets of Tang Soo Do. Young, innocent Anne thought humility was derived from the word humor. Who knows, maybe martial artists love to laugh and enjoy the benefits of a good joke?
Even when I discovered the true meaning of the word, putting it into practice was yet another challenge. Receiving a black belt at a young age is a tremendous feat. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate and use their newfound rank to their advantage?
In martial arts, we teach students not to let their rank or skills go to their head. After all, a black belt has just as much to learn as a white belt.
In my professional career, I’ve learned that humility is a tricky trait. On one end, we need to position ourselves as the best candidate for the job, the expert in the field, and/or the obvious choice for clients. Yet, we can’t let our successes inflate our ego.
As a writer, I understand that I have a long way to go. I’m only at the beginning of my story! I’ve had phenomenal triumphs and I’ve also had bumps in the road. By being humble and acknowledging that I can always improve, I keep my head on straight, persevere, and write on.
One Last Lesson
I’ll let you in on a little secret: anyone can learn these lessons. You don’t need an instructor, a uniform, or formal martial arts training to understand and apply these lessons.
To improve your attention to detail, remember to proofread the hell out of every piece of content you create. Have others read and edit your work. The only way to improve your writing is to persevere. And when you finally reach your goal, be humble and keep on writing.
Let Me Prove Myself
I can write a mean game, but the only way to prove myself is by writing for you. Contact me today and we’ll discuss how my martial arts lessons translate into your content writing needs.