Look! More stuff from out of my rather tired brain. Hopefully it makes sense. This week I'm thinking about how martial arts helps with Awareness.
I'm sure many have heard this term before. In martial arts, it's about how cognizant you are of yourself, your surroundings, other people, potential dangers etc. It's not necessarily something that all arts actually teach. At least, not consciously. But if you're a long-time practitioner, it creeps into your skillset, anyway.
You find yourself watching people, how they move, where they move, who they avoid, what they are watching. Your peripheral vision improves and you often bring up a hand or arm automatically to ward off a motion you hadn't consciously recognised yet. You pay attention to the 'gut feelings' you get about people and environments.
I was in a busy shopping centre the other day and my husband (whom I wasn't expecting) snuck up behind me and put a hand on my hip. But I didn't strike with an elbow, (as I normally would) in automatic response. As his fingers had touched me, I'd already become aware he was there - his familiarity, his scent, the tiniest glimpse of his sweater from the corner of my eye.
The point is, you become less oblivious to your surroundings and less focussed on your goal (eg: shopping). You see more, hear more, understand more. Not everything, of course. But more.
A writer often develops a similar open-ness to their surrounds. Not so much looking for potential threats, but just observing more. Looking for stories and people. Reading body language. Listening to interesting (or dull) dialogue. Watching character traits and tics; filing them away for future use.
Understanding people and how they behave as individuals and in groups is crucial for both writers and martial artists. But while martial artists are looking for people who might kill in real life, writers are looking for people to kill off in their stories.
Our way of thinking and behaving is not the only way. Nor necessarily the right way. Go out and people-watch. Don't just listen to dialogue, watch how they move, what they do with their hands, their bodies, their hair, their eyes. Try to work out what they're thinking based on their body language. Anticipate what they'll do next and see if you're right.
It's a good way to gain insight into both your characters, and people who might be a threat in the real world.
I live in Australia - which tells you I have a sense of humour. We're a self-deprecating people, we Aussies. My aim is to, one day, vanish in a blinding flash of enlightenment. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to learn as many