Long ago, someone wrote a motorcycle repair book entitled, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair.” Later, there was a publication called “Zen & the Art of Writing.” Author Ray Bradbury wrote an article for that publication entitled, “The Joy of Writing.” In 1990, Bradbury released a book of essays on his writings which was titled “Zen in the Art of Writing.” Hence, you can see how I came across the title for my blog.
Zen can be many things. In the 1990s, I found a book from China arguing that the Zen practiced in Japanese martial arts was not true Zen, that it was more like the fictional Zen in Hollywood movies. Well, when I studied Jujitsu, I learned about Zen. And one of the key axioms of Zen is to rid yourself of your ego. (Which the Chinese also share. One of their Zen mantras is: “I am nothing.”) Your ego gets in the way of success. And one of the best ways to deconstruct your ego is to relax and let go of yourself, to just let the inspiration flow.
And that’s important when you’re blogging, or even in anything and everything you do. American WW 2 hero and test pilot Chuck Yeager once said he just let the plane do the flying, that he was just along for the ride. That’s Zen. That’s deconstructing your ego. It’s being one with what you’re doing. Composers and musicians, artists, athletes, pilots, sailors, photographers, dancers, writers, we all do that. When you’re one with your subject, one with your art, it creates itself and you’re just an observer, along for the ride.
You can see this with some actors, who become one with the character they’re playing. They become that character and most viewers then forget the actor whose playing that character and only see the character. Val Kilmer accomplished that in the film “Tombstone” when he played Old West legend Doc Holiday. You stop noticing Kilmer but instead saw only Holiday. Same with Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And actors Helen Mirren and Emma Watson. Both can play just about any character and all you see is that character. That is, if you suspend your disbelief and let yourself become one with whatever movie you’re watching. Then you’re moved by the performance. And let us not forget Tom Hanks. He’s among the best of all.
And as long as we’re talking about movies, don’t forget the music. Music creates the mood, carrying the movie goer deep into the emotional world of the characters.
So, how can we make our blogs better? Well, there’s nothing wrong with pictures. Backgrounds are good, too. At this point in my blogging career, I want my words to be all that you see. I want you to taste them and feel them and hear them. I want you, the reader, to be carried away by them.
However, the Zen in blogging is also about why you’re blogging. If you want to show your work, if want to share it and share your life and yourself and why you do, that’s a good enough reason to blog. And maybe that covers it all. But don’t let your ego rule you. If you make it all about how great you are, if your readers aren’t getting anything from it, after awhile they will just leave you high and dry, alone and destitute.
One way to think about it is how you can bless your readers and viewers. No one wants a constant bombardment of “I AM THE GREATEST WRITER YOU ARE EVER GOING TO READ. MY STORY IS THE GREATEST STORY YOU WILL EVER READ. MY MUSIC IS THE GREATEST. MY ART IS THE GREATEST.” No one wants such obnoxiousness in their lives. That doesn’t bless your audience because it’s all about you and nothing about them. How does it help anyone else? It doesn’t.
So, how do you bless your readers? Be as honest as you can and try not to be obnoxious. Be self-aware. We think of ourselves as self-aware because we’re human. But when we are only focused on ourselves, we’re not self-aware, we’re just self-centered, self-absorbed and self-righteous. No one matters but us. A good blog needs balance. (Like Mister Miyagi says in the original Karate Kid movie.) And balance comes from trying to bless others. You can only bless others, and yourself, when you let go of your ego.
Comes back to that again and again, doesn’t it, letting go of your ego? One reason why it’s so important to let go of your ego is because the ego part of your mind is what feels fear. If you’re frozen with fear you can’t accomplish anything. There are countless stories of writers or performers who had great success with their first efforts. For writers, after an amazing first novel, many, many, many of them have been so driven with fear that their next work won’t be as good that they might fail. Some become drug addicts, many alcoholics. They’re so afraid of their work and their audience that they run away from it.
For every success story there are thousands of failures. And the sad thing is, half all those success stories end up as failures. Don’t look for instant success, look for progress–both in your work, in yourself, and with a growing audience.
So, as a performer, a writer, a blogger, how do you achieve progress and success? By letting go of yourself and your fear. Be one with your subject, one with your work. Let the work be your goal. Leave your ego at the door and think about blessing your audience. Relax. Rest. Be one with yourself and the world.
I try to do that every time I write.