• Scott Herring

Turning Japanese: Zanshin for Bloggers

Part 3 of a 4 Part Series

I have a motivational "dream collage" that I look at every morning (where all these lovely Japanese ideas appear). The collage reminds me of my intended daily direction, including the words mentioned in Part 1 (shokunin) and Part 2 (kaizen) of this series of posts. I added the third word -- zanshin -- years ago when I was playing a lot of competitive beach volleyball. At the time, I read a book by Sir Ken Robinson called The Element that explored different forms of intelligence. One of the forms was bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. If you've ever watched top-level beach volleyball players, you may have noticed their choreographic movements as they cover the court. When one player moves forward, the other one moves back. One moves left, the other ensues, keeping a fixed distance as if attached by a rubber band. These athletes are practicing zanshin, which translates as a complete awareness of the body and mind in relation to the goal. Although I originally added it because of sports, you can see where this is going. I advocate creating a workspace, both physical and mental - that supports zanshin for bloggers.

Writing blogs on a regular basis is challenging. Sometimes you're not inspired. If it's your "side hustle", sometimes you don't have mental bandwidth or available time to assemble thoughts and write. But I find that if I ritualize my writing, giving it a dedicated time in a specific place, it's easier to get after it.

I write a great deal, so I end up with more than one of these blocks on my calendar. I have dedicated writing time at 5:15am on weekdays (you'll think I'm psycho, but I get up at 4). Coffee kicks in, laptop comes out. For another blogging block, on Monday afternoon, I pick a topic, on Tuesday afternoon I make my outline, on Wednesday afternoon, I write the post, and on Thursday, I edit and publish. Each of those blocks happens in the same place, with no phone or email allowed (I get away from my desk, which offers up too many distractions).

This practice is my use of zanshin. I allocate time on my calendar. Then I ritualize the process. Most importantly, I remove the temptations -- those things that I know will take me out of my state of relaxed alertness that I need to write. Zanshin requires being aware of body and mind within your surroundings, which enables you to be more effective.

I'll add another element to juice your thinking about zanshin in blogging. To find good ideas, you need to be present. Yeah, I live in LA, so being mindful is a thing. I find the best ideas when I'm aware of my environment. I can be on a run, reading a book, listening to a podcast, or chatting with a friend. If I listen to what's going on with active awareness, the best ideas are born.

The Role of Zanshin for Bloggers

I think zanshin is a killer concept. Mindfulness matters for blogging. It's how you'll be productive, get better, and potentially master the craft...and for me, it means I can get enough done so I can get out on the beach!


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