Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club – Lesson #19

Welcome to the Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club! Every Wednesday, we meet to discuss one of the lessons in Dojo Wisdom for Writers. We’ll go in order, so it’s easy enough to follow along. Read the lesson, then read the blog post, then comment in the comments! Do feel free to comment on each other’s comments. I’ll answer questions as quickly as I can.

Lesson #19 – Courtesy reveals your strength

Being polite even when you don’t feel like it is a big part of traditional martial arts. While it’s easy enough to manage under the given parameters of a sparring match or a lesson, it’s harder to do this out in the real world, especially because out in the world, other people don’t know the rules, or at least they don’t follow them. It’s hard to be courteous to someone spitting in your face.

Courtesy isn’t about letting people walk all over you, or not responding to a threat, or anything like that. Courtesy is about acknowledging that the other person is just as important, valuable, and amazing as you are, even if you find that hard to believe. That doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries or walk away from an asshole. It means you have emotional control and you use it.

In this Internet era of people saying whatever they want under the cloak of anonymity, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if what you’re saying is something you’re willing to say under your own name.

For writers, courtesy can be an especially useful skill to cultivate because so many people don’t have it. The next time you’re tempted to respond to an editor’s response or a blog reader’s comment with a knee-jerk rudeness, take a breath and ask yourself if courtesy wouldn’t serve you better.

A story I like to tell is one where a colleague and I had a spirited disagreement about an approach I had taken in some of my writing. Never once did she cross the line into rudeness or personal attacks. She stated her position and supported it, and I did mine, and eventually we wrote a book together and became good friends. That would never have happened if we’d dealt rudely with each other.

Is there a time when you’ve found being courteous worked to your advantage?


Dojo Wisdom for Writers, second edition, now available on Amazon in print and ebook! (Nook and other ebook versions here)
Catch a Falling Star (by Jessica Starre) and The Matchmaker Meets Her Match (by Jenny Jacobs), two of my favorite novels.

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