"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is." –H. Jackson Browne, Jr.
Last weekend, hubby and I were jamming on guitars. It's something we love to do, sip a little wine and play our favorite songs. He paused and looked over at me, saying, "Don't hold back. Hit those strings like you mean it."
I needed the reminder. His next comment though really struck home. "You need to let go of that tendency to ride the brakes all the time."
Wow... The thought reverberated in my head. The visual image meshed beautifully with the startling realization of my own tentative nature. You can bet I did play more aggressively for the remainder of the evening and loved it. Woo-hoo!
"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." –Anais Nin
The next day I studied those words I'd scribbled down with such haste.
Riding the Brakes.
Being a writer is all about risk. Sure, just about anyone can string words together into the semblance of a sentence. Writing a story can be as simplistic as See Jane Run. Yet as readers, we know the difference between a story that merely connects the dots and one that sweeps us into an enchanted world. No matter the genre, whether commercial or literary, the writer who pushes past the boundaries makes us gasp with delight or sit stunned as a revelation resonates within our hearts.
I want to be that writer. Don't you?
"Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that's why we decide we're done. It's getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out." --Natalie Goldberg
Taking Risks vs. Riding the Brakes. Writing isn't an easy task. Which is why we heave a sigh of relief when finished and often eye revisions with the same enthusiasm with which we might face a cluttered, spider-infested garage. Ewwwwww…. But… I'm all done! WAH!
Part of why the task can feel so onerous is simple. If our story isn't awakening our souls, rattling our bones, clenching our fists, touching our hearts, we may simply be bored. *gulp* We need to dig deeper. Take the foot off the brake. Take A Chance.
If you're feeling stuck with a passage, pull up a separate document. Now, give yourself free rein. Let loose and explore by writing the three wildest, most preposterous (or provocative *wink*) scenes that you can yank out of your imagination. Remember, this isn't part of your story so you can get as crazy as you want. When you're done, try three more. Let yourself Feel that tingle of excitement knowing You Can Write Anything.
Anything at all.
In fact, you can write anything you damn well please.
That's right. It's Your Story. If you're bored or beleaguered, feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, why not twist into a direction you absolutely would never consider? Take a chance. Whether or not you continue in that direction is irrelevant to your process of writing. Shaking up the map will often reveal roads you never would have seen otherwise.
"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." –Andre Gide
Writing is a voyage of discovery. We must take risks in order to discover not only an incredible story, but also our self within each page. Those amazing revelations that leave you gasping will strike your readers too.
"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart... Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal." --William Wordsworth
Write the story you've always dreamt of composing. Write a paragraph without worrying how it will fit in (remember our mantra—It's Only A First Draft). Write from your heart and soul. Let the words flow from you like a burst of spontaneous laughter.
We all have chosen goals and nagging deadlines. After all, We are Writers. We write. By page count and word count. Today, let's make another goal. To dig a little deeper and remember why we write. To experience that tingle of delight, that shiver of excitement, that gasp of awe.
You can do it. You are a writer. Feeling a little fear at the mere thought of pushing yourself? Trust me, it's natural. That, my friend, is a shot of pure adrenalin. You are an adventurer, about to leap off a cliff into the unknown. Trust in the wings of imagination to whisk you away to undiscovered lands. Breathe in the sweet breeze and let your spirit soar.
You, my friend, are a writer… *wink*
Tell me, are you a Risk-Taker by nature or do you tend to Ride The Brakes? How have you encouraged yourself to push beyond your own boundaries?
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between The Lines.