Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club – Lesson #8

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 #8. Keep the beginner’s mind.

This week’s lesson is about the beginner’s mind—the attitude that allows you to learn because you don’t have all the answers already. As you master the craft, of course you become more expert and you know better how to do things. But often feeling as if you know what you’re doing gets in the way of your getting better at doing it!

One of my friends likes to say, “Joe doesn’t have five years’ experience; he has one year’s experience five times.” This is what happens when you don’t get better. It’s what happens when you’re stuck at a certain level of competence. And sometimes you get stuck there because you think you know what you’re doing and so you cut off avenues for growth.

Going back to the beginner’s mind is hard and scary. But it’s the place where growth can happen. One of my favorite ways to go back to the beginner’s mind is to take on something I’ve never done before. For example, publishing Dojo Wisdom for Writers as the first book from Lawler and Daughter Publishing made me feel like a beginner all over again. I knew how to write, but I didn’t know how to publish! It felt awkward and strange, but it also made me think about what people really need from a book in a world that has changed a lot since Dojo Wisdom for Writers first came out.

By the same token, I have a work-in-progress that’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Maybe I’ll crash and burn. Probably I’ll crash and burn. But the beauty of the process is that I can feel my beginner’s mind. I don’t know all the answers already. It opens me up to doing the unexpected.

What’s something you do to keep the beginner’s mind?


Dojo Wisdom for Writers, second edition, now available! Check out the special low price ($2.99 for the Kindle Edition) for the Nanowrimo month of November only!
Catch a Falling Star (by Jessica Starre) and The Matchmaker Meets Her Match (by Jenny Jacobs), two of my favorite novels.

And don’t forget classes for writers—and more on writing at