To be a better writer is a struggle. If you’re anything like me, I suffer from frequent writer’s block, a cacophony of distractions from working at home and some serious procrastination tendencies.
I recently read about sumo wrestlers and was struck with the rituals, discipline and mental rigour that sumo wrestlers use to prepare for tournaments. Sumo wrestlers are focused, driven and are deliberate in every move, whether it’s in fighting movements or exercise practices. Above all, sumo wrestlers have a profound respect and approach to their craft. According to BBC Travel, “Sumo is intensely traditional, where everything on display has a deeper meaning.” It occurred to me that perhaps us writers should treat our craft of writing just like sumo wrestlers treat their craft of wrestling – by devoting significant time and energy to it.
There are a few things we could learn from sumo wrestlers to be better writers, aside from eating 20,000 calories a day.
1. Develop a Writing Routine
Sumo wrestlers have exercise routines starting at 5 am and pre-match ritual practices before and after entering the ring. They rely on rituals and routines especially in their dramatic entrances to the ring or tying a proper sumo bow. Click here to read an article about why Humans crave routine. It’s not about the match only; it’s about getting to the match and what happens after.
Set up a writing routine. And respect it.A writing routine organically provides you with writing practice. Write at the same time every day, in the same place, with the same type of coffee or tea. Before you roll your eyes and call me OCD ;), give it a try. In one week, I wrote one short story. I’m not just making this up: click here to read about Cal Newport and his research behind productivity with routines. The most successful people have routines. Need more convincing? Click here to read a blog post routines from the most successful writers who schedule out their writing time.
Sumo wrestlers are intensely humble. Being humble means being respectful and unpretentious. We as writers can plya a similar attitude towards our writing. Offer help to other writers and most importantly, know that you are never done learning your craft.
Part of the humility also comes in helping others succeed. In helping younger wrestlers in their wrestling practices, professional sumo wrestlers teach junior wrestlers their skills and talents. In this way, they are building upon centuries and centuries of an unchanged tradition. Let’s teach our interns and young ones the correct way to write (pre-blog era), or better yet, how to break the rules of writing.
As a mentor once told me, we need to put our ego on a shelf.
3. The toughest opponent is always yourself.
Most top sumo wrestlers maintain that sumo is more mental than physical. “Your toughest opponent in sumo is always yourself,” Yokozuna Takanohana told the Washington Post. “Making yourself stand up to the daily pressure of 15 straight days is the hardest thing in the sport.”
We don’t need to tackle over 500-pound men to be a better writer, but we are engaging in in our own weighted struggles and everyday writing rigors (aka, writer’s block).
Sumo wrestlers, in their intense exercise practices, out beat the physical parts of sumo by surpassing their mental state. Once you figure out “yes I can do this!” then you have already moved mountains.
4. Get in the ‘write’ mindset.
If you can’t get yourself in the right frame of mind intellectually, you can’t win.
Some people must get in the mindset for performing or doing a particular task. Sumo wrestlers aside, celebrities, CEOs, and famous entertainers have something in common. They have alter egos. Beyonce’s alter ego is Sasha Fierce. Click here to read more about how famous people have alter egos and why.
Alter egos are one way people get in the right mindset. Others eliminate distractions, like phone or internet for one hour, to fully focus on writing. Whatever it is, make sure that you have the proper mental atmosphere to get hte writing job done.
For one hour I get in my zone and write.
I haven’t been 100% successful in the above practices because – *confession alert! – it’s hard to be a better writer. Even the best writers are constantly molding themselves as sharper writers. Regardless, like our writing craft, – and like the sumo wrestler’s craft- we must practice patience, discipline, courage, and be strong in our writing.
I hope these tips help!
Join the Community!
Subscribe to get our latest content by email.