Breaking the Board . . . or Not

My son is now a yellow belt. The last feat he had to complete before shedding his beginner belt was to break a pine board. (No, not balsa wood.)

He was nervous. You don’t get to try it until the actual day of testing, and then you only get three attempts. To see what happened, you’ll have to click on the video below. (It’s 19 seconds—not a big time investment.)

In addition to the excitement of the day, I learned a lesson that I (of course) related to writing. To break a board, you cannot aim for the board. You’ll never succeed. You have to aim for a spot past the board.

It’s brilliant the way our brain works. Without us even having to tell it to, our brain slows the body down a little bit before getting to the target for which we’re aiming. It’s a good thing too when you’re walking toward the edge of a cliff.

However, at times that same “safety mechanism” limits us. In martial arts, if you aim for the board, your foot will hit the board but not break it. When you aim a few inches past the board, then you break it.

As authors of tween books, if we simply aim “to write a book”  we might not hit our potential. On the other hand, if our goal is to tell a story, one that makes kids laugh, think, cry, and stay up late reading under the covers, then we will succeed.

My goal in 2014 is not to write books, but to tell stories. Join with me in aiming past the board.

10 thoughts on “Breaking the Board . . . or Not

  1. I remember breaking that first board!! Great analogy, too. There’s a fear factor, and you have to believe you can do it. That it isn’t as hard as it looks. That the fact that others think it’s scary doesn’t mean you can’t try. The first board break is very empowering, as is finishing the first book. You really feel, “I can do this! In fact, I can do more!”

  2. Yay for your son’s triumph! It’s a thrill to break that first board, for sure. Gosh, I miss those days when I took karate with my three daughters. Very empowering. Great analogy, Lois!

  3. Every good review is a broken board. To know that someone took the time to read my work, and enjoyed it enough to leave a review saying so gives such a sense of accomplishment! How many stories have been lost over the years because the publishing gatekeepers didn’t think they were good enough, or couldn’t figure out how to market them? I shudder at the thought.

  4. Love, love, love this post! Thanks for sharing your son’s accomplishment, Lois! The board is nothing but an obstacle to surmount. High fives for sharing your family’s victory!

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