Ever get to the place in your writing where you just want to play it safe? I think every writer gets there. Doesn’t every writer have a manuscript that’s too blah because you were too scared to go where you should have gone? Or a manuscript that’s gathering dust because you’re too scared for anyone to read it?
But staying in the safe zone stifles your writing. Risk brings your work to life. Here are some leaps of faith to take your writing to the next level.
When you’re writing, reach into the part of you that has suffered the most hurt. Take the anxieties you have and put your character through those realities. This will make your writing so much deeper. Your experiences are a gold mine if you’re willing to use them.
Did some insane plot development pop into your head and you said “nah”? Give it a go. See what happens. You can always go back and rewrite it again. But the experience will never be a loss, because you’ll learn something from it.
If you’re afraid to let someone read your work, this is the leap of faith you need to take. You might have to take a few deep breaths as you let go of your brainchild, but put it into the hands of a trusted friend for starters, then work your way up to a supportive writing group or critique partner.
There might be something in your writing that you need to get rid of, but you’re hanging onto it. Ask yourself why? Letting go of needless characters, plot lines, stylistic elements, etc. can free you up to explore new possibilities. Like Faulkner said: Kill your darlings.
When the time comes, it can be very hard to walk your little manuscript up to the bus stop, kiss it goodbye, and send it off into the cruel world of rejections. But if your story is ever to become a book, this is exactly what you have to do. It may mean a lot of rejections. It may mean some rewrites. It may mean that your story doesn’t make it at all. But that book isn’t doing anyone any good cluttering up your hard drive.
Any art worth sharing involves some risk. So get brave and take that leap.
Erin E.M. Hatton is the author of Otherworld and Across the Deep, winner of the 2014 Free Publishing Contest for Fiction. She has also authored several short stories and novellas. She graduated from Redeemer University College and lives in Barrie, Ontario with her husband Kevin and four children.
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