Today would be my mother’s birthday. My family lost her to lymphoma when I was eleven; I try to focus on all the wonderful times I had with her–and all the wonderful things she taught me–rather than dwell on all the awesome stuff in my life she’s had to miss.
So today, in her honor, I wanted to share one of the most important lessons she gave me. I’m sure you’re familiar with it, and it definitely applies to writing:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS. TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE.
Some backstory: You probably don’t know I was a cheerleader for the local peewee football team one year in grammar school.
(This is kind of a funny image, considering my personality…. No one who knows me now would ever suspect it. I am not quite cheerleader material, to put things nicely. Much more the bookworm. I prefer not to draw attention to myself.)
My mom, who was not particularly athletic, learned my squad’s big dance routine with the other girls’ moms and performed it for us numerous times to help us learn it!
Of course, she nailed it. I have no idea how much, or when, she practiced, but she didn’t half-ass this. She did it wholeheartedly, and she did it for me.
I will always remember that: I mean, I knew my mom was awesome, but I never expected her to learn our dance and take that hands-on an approach. Way, way beyond the call of duty
But I like to think she had fun doing that. That she grew from the experience and learned something from it. Because it’s hard to grow and develop without taking chances, trying something new, and opening yourself up.
Opening yourself up…. Don’t ALL we writers know how that feels? Taking advice from betas and editors, risking (and receiving) that horrible one star review…. It’s all a necessary part of the job.
And you know what? We mature from those experiences, not just as writers but as people.
Heck, just the act of writing fiction–even before another soul sees it–is a big risk.
- You risk exposing your fears, forcing yourself to confront them.
- You risk exposing your insecurities.
- You risk hating your characters because they encapsulate the things you hate about yourself.
- You risk “wasting” time and energy, pouring those resources into a story that will never go anywhere. One you might never even finish.
Well, I try not to be overwhelmed by those risks by not taking writing too seriously. That’s another thing I learned from my Mom.
She was a great Mom. She was strict, for sure: in a good way. She set boundaries, and I will always be grateful for that. Kids need boundaries to develop a healthy sense of responsibility and to learn that actions have consequences.
But she was also FUN, you know? She could be a wonderful goofball! And that’s important in life.
It’s also important in fiction.
Writing needs to be fun. It can (and will) be tough at times. Be stressful. It will make you want to pull your hair out.
But at the same time, you have to love it. You have to have fun with it. And you need a sense of humor approaching those passages you wrote that are just….
Well, the ones that are awesomely bad.
And BELIEVE me, I’ve written my share of those
So, what do you think about taking risks in your writing? Where do you find adventure in writing? Who taught you that stretching your skills and leaving your comfort zone is okay?
This awesome lady taught me!