“Writing Judo” By Guest Blogger Ollin Morales

I’m excited to welcome the first guest post ever on my blog by: <trumpet fanfare> Ollin Morales.  <thunderous applause> I enjoy his inspirational posts about his writing journey as he writes his first novel and I hope you do, too 🙂  Don’t forget to check out my post on Ollin’s  {Courage 2 Create} blog today.

Writing Judo

by Ollin Morales

Writing is like martial arts.

You can’t let all the tools and the forms and the structures restrain you. You have to be willing to apply your skill to whatever comes your way. You have to allow yourself to work with a scene in your novel both organically and at the same time shape it with the skill you have learned. It’s mind meets instinct. Bruce Lee says it best:

“Be water my friend.” – Bruce Lee

When I am convinced that my mindset at the moment is not congruent with the scene or piece I am trying to write, I write it anyway. But instead of ignoring my mindset at the moment, I use it, I utilize the energy–whether it is that I am mad, or confused, or feel humiliated, or lost. Suddenly what I thought had nothing to do with what I was writing was exactly what the piece needed.

There is a raw emotion and a realness that you bring to your work. Because, after all, you are the one that is human. You are the only real thing about your novel, so it is up to you to bring that realness of humanity to your writing. One way to do this is to use your raw emotions, your vulnerabilities, your insecurities, your anger, what have you, and let them shape that scene.

We can get convinced that there is no way that our lives right now could possibly be in sync with what we are writing about and so we can’t use any of it in our writing.

But try again, and you’ll find that you are wrong. What you are going through is (sometimes) exactly what you need.

Our writing is a reflection of who we are at the moment, whether we like it or not. You can try to restrain that human rawness typing at that laptop, but it would serve you better if you went with it. Be like water. If you’re being poured into a cup, you become the cup.

Allow your mood to guide you, to reveal an answer. That nightmare you had last night. Write it out, and in your story you can give it a happy ending. That problem that you couldn’t solve all night, and kept you up, and now you don’t remember what it was–write it out in the story and maybe you will solve it.

Dustin Hoffman once talked about a pivotal scene in Rainman where at one point as an actor he became so mad and frustrated that he couldn’t get the scene right. Obviously, he had to do the scene no matter what, so they went forward with the shoot. But instead of resisting those raw emotions, Hoffman used them in that very same scene. His character suddenly become angry and frustrated. Did the audience care that what they were really seeing was Dustin Hoffman, the actor, being angry and frustrated? No. The audience didn’t know the difference. All they saw was the real, raw emotions–they saw the anger and the frustration, and they connected those emotions with the character in the scene. That’s all they needed to see.

“Definitely. You need to be like water, definitely, definitely…”

Or to paraphrase my acting teacher in college, Kay: “You can’t make the scene real, because it’s fake. But what you can do is make it true.”

As the writer, you bring the rawness to your work. Don’t hold it back. Use it. Infuse it into the work. That’s how you bring the truth to the work and your characters. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t the right emotion for the right period or situation, or whatever. Humans haven’t changed much over the years. The same basic needs are still there. Your characters all need to have those basic needs in order to come off as human, but since they’re fake, you have to give it to them.

If you’re a writer, feel lucky. Someone has given you a pathway. A way to find an answer, that is all in your control. Don’t resist, let it flow.

much “everybody was kung fu fighting! nah nuh nah nuh nah nuh nah nuh nah!”


Ollin Morales is a writer and a blogger. {Courage 2 Create} chronicles the author’s journey as he writes his first novel. His blog offers writing tips as well as strategies to deal with life’s toughest challenges. After all, as Ollin’s story unfolds, it becomes more and more clear to him that in order to write a great novel, he must first learn how to live a great life.

11 thoughts on ““Writing Judo” By Guest Blogger Ollin Morales

  1. T.S. Bazelli December 13, 2010 / 10:34 AM

    I think I remember a writing quote somewhere (and I paraphrase badly) that all writing is autobiographical, not in the facts of what happened, but what was felt. Sometimes when I’m angry, I try to remember the feeling, and how I would describe the frustration if I were to write it down. Unfortunately doing that means that the emotion dissipates, and the anger slips away into nothing. Writing is magical, I tell you. hehe

    • Ollin December 13, 2010 / 12:58 PM

      Yes, it is magical. And that quote sounds right on the money. Your work has no choice but to be an autobiography, but one in symbols and metaphors, and not in fact.

  2. Brown Eyed Mystic December 13, 2010 / 4:58 PM

    Awesome post Ollin. Thanks for sharing this. Its tough to “be like water” but hey, trying counts!


    • Ollin December 13, 2010 / 7:38 PM

      Thank you BrownEyed. I think its easier than we think, it’s just people are usually taught to be like walls all the time. We got a lot of un-learning to do, right?

  3. nrhatch December 13, 2010 / 4:59 PM

    Good guest blog, Ollin & Janna.

    We see the world behind our eyes . . . and then we write it down.

    If you can’t “be the ball” . . . then have a ball trying!

    • Ollin December 13, 2010 / 7:39 PM

      Haha! I loved that saying at the end. You’re really good at sayings nancy {is it?}. You should write one of those day books. I’m reading one right now that reminds me of your blog. I love it.

    • nrhatch December 13, 2010 / 7:43 PM

      Thanks, Ollin. I love expressions that remind me to stay focused on everyday miracles and joy ~ the positives.

      And, yup, it’s nancy.

  4. jannatwrites December 13, 2010 / 7:19 PM

    Thank you for guesting on my blog and sharing your take on emotions in writing, from a viewpoint that I never would have thought of doing.

    I really liked the example of Dustin Hoffman’s frustration coming through in a scene of Rainman great movie.)

    • Ollin December 13, 2010 / 7:40 PM

      You’re welcome. I learned that when I was studying to be in actor in college. I’m a big fan of recommending acting classes to writers. You learn SO MUCH that can help you in your writing. Just an intro class with a really great teacher does a lot to help understand character motivation and dialogue.

  5. Amanda Hoving December 14, 2010 / 8:45 AM

    Great post, Ollin. I have to agree with taking acting classes to help your writing — you learn so much about emotion and description with every scene.

    • Ollin December 14, 2010 / 12:28 PM

      Yeah, I was just thinking about this. Being a writer is like acting all of the different parts in your book, that’s why it’s so helpful, especially for your characters and making them real.

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