Tag: writing

Writing Fight Scenes, Martial Arts, and Life

Sometimes writing is about re-inventing your life.

Back in April of 2016, I wanted to write a fight scene for a mystery, but I had no clue how to start. Being all about real life research, I checked for martial arts schools near me. One offered a free trial of a week of classes. Perfect.  I planned to take a class or two, then write my scene. End of story.

The instructor at the school taught Wing Chun, a type of close-combat kung fu. Close, as in fists flying in your face. I would never, ever have expected it, but I loved the first class. I have been taking Wing Chun classes ever since and it has been life changing. Studying Wing Chun has strengthened my body, my mind, my ability to focus, and my self confidence.

But it didn’t stop there. During the Covid pandemic in 2020, I tried another martial art, Tai Chi. The advantage was I could still practice with social distancing in place. Although in many ways Wing Chun and Tai Chi are diametrically-opposed (close and fast movements versus slow and far apart), they also complement each other.

Imagine my delight when I discovered Carla Hoch also started her martial arts journey from being a writer. You can hear her story, as well as the benefits of studying martial arts, in the video.


Carla Hoch now teaches people how to write fight scenes. She has turned her experiences into a book, Fight Write:  How to Write Believable Fight Scenes.


(Note:  Links go to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate so if you chose to purchase the book, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.)

Carla blogs at  FightWrite.net, with such fascinating topics as how to write about injuries due to magic. Cool!

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Writer’s Digest Books (June 11, 2019)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1440300720
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1440300721

Has writing ever changed your life?

#amwriting #storyaday May Challenge Complete

You may have noticed I have not been posting much this month.  I have been quiet because I was participating in the StoryADay challenge at Julie Duffy’s blog.

The challenge is an easy one to customize to fit your writing needs. You simply make your own goals to write something regularly in the month of May. My goal was to write 500 to 700 words every single day on any topic I fancied and also to visit the blog regularly for prompts and other inspiration.

On the first day I wrote down a bunch of ideas for projects to work on. Julie Duffy calls them “sparks.” The following eight days I wrote a series of flash stories. As I worked through them I found my writing becoming clearer and more focused. I pushed out the mental flotsam that was jamming my progress and got my process flowing again. At that point I switched to writing a scene per day for a novel that I had started and set aside.

Thank you to Julie Duffy for a productive month. Wish me luck for maintaining the momentum through June and beyond.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the challenge and how it works.


#amwriting Finding the Path

A few days ago I walked across a grassy patch near my house. A silvery dew covered the area and I could see footprints.

When I turned back, I noticed something that startled me.

I thought I had been walking in a straight line, but instead I had wandered back and forth.

It is natural. People who get lost in the woods or in the desert — where there are few landmarks — begin to loop around and walk back to where they started (LiveScience discusses our tendency to circle).

The way to correct the wavering is to focus on an object in the distance, such as a tree, and head for it. I tried it. When I checked my path, it had worked.

As I thought about it more, I realized it was a good metaphor for my life right now. I feel like I’m wandering lost, rather than pushing toward a writing goal.

The problem is I have many, many projects and so my goals are a forest rather than a tree. No wonder I’m getting nowhere.

It’s time to thin the forest. It’s time to focus.

Too bad it is so hard to figure out which ones have the most value or even will bear fruit.

How do you decide which projects are worthwhile? 

On Creativity And Cat Litter, With Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk

Creativity is a mystery. One day your ideas flow and eight thousand words pour out onto paper in an hour or two. Another time a complete short story arrives at three in the morning, as fast as you can write it down. A few days later, the brakes come on and it is a struggle to write more than a sentence or two. How do you deal with this boom and bust?

Creative Ways To Deal With Creativity Problems

Some writers have come up with coping mechanisms or ways to describe the process that help the words keep coming

For example, Elizabeth Gilbert shares how poet Ruth Stone “captures” a poem.

…she [Ruth] would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.

The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page.


Gilbert tells the story during this wonderful TED talk about the fickleness of the creativity.


Gilbert suggests it helps to develop coping mechanisms like talking to the elusive creative genius in the corner of the room. Whatever works to get rid of the angst.

Describing the process in concrete ways can help, too. Take Shannon Hale’s quote:

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

Nice sentiment. Unfortunately, my current work in progress feels more like I accidentally shoveled in kitty litter instead of sand.


Some writers resort to rituals, like always using the same pen, drinking coffee from the same mug, or sitting in a certain chair. Shortlist reveals authors who stand up or lie down to write. They report Maya Angelou checks into a hotel where everything has been taken off the walls of the room. If I could produce work like hers, I would certainly give that a try.

Relaxing Sounds

Listening to certain repetitive sounds or music can improve focus and boost productivity. Stimulating your senses can get your creative juices flowing, too. YouTube has a number of videos that run from two to three hours with relaxing background sounds. I’m listening to swamp sounds right now. Blizzard winds are nice, too.


Play stimulates creativity in children, why not adults? Try making friends with your inner child. Toss a ball. Play a game. Dress up as your favorite character. Finger paint. Make some actual sand castles. Whatever sounds like fun at the moment.

Get Feedback From Creative People

Although at times negative critiques can freeze up the writing process, look for one of those positive, imaginative people who energize you and bounce some of your questions off them. They just might help you over the hurdles.

Walk, Nap, Etc.

Taking a walk can get the blood flowing to your brain if you’ve been sedentary.

On the other hand, don’t forget that the type of thinking that writing requires takes energy. Take a nap to recharge those batteries. Connecting with your subconscious isn’t a bad thing, either.

According to an article about thinking in Scientific American, Claude Messier of the University of Ottawa writes:

“The brain has a hard time staying focused on just one thing for too long. It’s possible that sustained concentration creates some changes in the brain that promote avoidance of that state. It could be like a timer that says, ‘Okay you’re done now.’ Maybe the brain just doesn’t like to work so hard for so long.”

So, there you go. Give yourself permission for some R and R, and perhaps that fickle organ will produce something worthwhile. If not, you can always go change the cat litter.

Have you ever struggled with creativity? How did you jump start it again?

Join Us For Two Writing/Reading Projects: First is #NaNoWriMo

Fall is so energizing.  Maybe that’s why we are launching not one, but two writing/reading projects around here. We’ll be announcing the big one next week. We hope you will join us for both.


First up, is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. Basically, the goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. You can read more about it here. Are you going to sign up? The NaNoWriMo theme for 2016 is “Blast Off.” Let’s do it!

Everyone has different reasons to take part in NaNoWriMo. Mine has been to try to improve my writing skills. Believe it or not, it is actually working. This year I have been preparing by taking an October Prep Challenge, too.  It has been helping not only to develop an extensive background for the novel, but also to develop the habitat of focusing on writing every day.

Writing Project for 2016:  A Thriller



Premise:  J.R. operates in the shadows, doing jobs for clandestine government agencies they want kept off the record. After he rescues a young woman with a violent past, he and his team find themselves battling a hidden adversary bent on destroying them. J.R. must figure out who is orchestrating the attacks before he loses his life, or far worse, his enemy uncovers J.R.’s secrets.

Frankly, there’s much more to it than that, but I’m keeping some of the juicier details under wraps for the time being.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo in November? What is your project going to be?


It’s a Mystery: Why I’m Adding a New Blog

Why a new blog? I have been blogging for years about children’s books at Wrapped In Foil blog, but the time seems right to move on. Please join me for a conversation about reading and writing mystery/thriller suspense novels. We may even throw in a television series or movie discussion now and then.



Are you ready to get started?

Do you read mysteries? Who is your favorite mystery author this month?


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