Mar 14, 2022

Miyamoto Musashi wrote that he penned the Book of Five Rings with no editing and no quoting of others. He wrote from the heart in a single sitting.

To write this book I did not use the law of Buddha or the teachings of Confucius, neither old war chronicles nor books on martial tactics. I take up my brush to explain the true spirit of this Ichi school as it is mirrored in the Way of heaven and Kwannon. The time is the night of the tenth day of the tenth month, at the hour of the tiger. — Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

This sort of writing mirrors how a musician or an athlete performs live in the moment. It is no surprise that Musashi would approach his life’s work in this manner, he was a warrior after all — deliberation and hesitation mean death. When the moment comes you must seize it. Thoughts must be emptied as they come.

As someone prone to analysis paralysis, I prefer this sort of writing over the more traditional write and edit cycles. Editing invites too many opportunities for me to not publish. I would much rather just write and release the thoughts that spring to mind at the time. They reflect my current feelings on the subject. If better thoughts arrive, we'll publish those too. Even contradictory ones.

My thoughts evolve rapidly and I’m capable of producing convincing arguments from different perspectives. I think it's a good attribute because it signals an open and evolving mind, but it’s a terrible attribute for editing because you can generate arguments that make you question your original points and I often have.

I’m having much better luck with Musashi’s style of picking a topic, sitting down to write and publishing that same draft. Perhaps it’s not the most polished of products, but not all things need polish to be valuable.