Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why writers should stretch


Credit

I once did a post about Stephen King's On Writing, where he said that writers should never come lightly to writing.

It's really true. When I don't realize what a pleasure it is to write, I get de-sensitized, and that just makes the whole process so much less fun to do. In a way, I write so often, that I stop caring that I write. And in doing so, I stop caring whether I write or not.

Lately, this has become a really great risk for me. It's one big reason as to why I spent weeks on end editing, but not writing a thing. I took writing too lightly. I forgot what a joy it is for me.

So what, you may ask, does it have to do with stretching?

Well.

Yesterday I read a post (sorry, forgot where it came from) about how a writer wrote a very different story from what she was used to, and got a much better response than anything she wrote before. And then (as mentioned above), I promptly forgot about it.

Except part of me kept thinking about stretching boundaries. Toeing out of our comfort zone to write something new and different.

I realized today that I don't do that any more. I've grown so comfortable with Doorways that I stopped stretching. And that's affecting how I feel about writing. Before, I used to write for the thrill of it. Now the thrill is gone and I write because of my passion for one specific story.

That's probably the number one reason why I just can't focus on anything but Doorways. No other story approximates my investment in the Beast, so nothing else is worth my time. Never mind that I was thrilled to write two completely unrelated stories.

I just don't think that getting stuck on one story at the cost of my passion for writing in general is a good thing. So. I'm going to stretch. I'm going to take an hour or so every day to work on something short, but different. A poem. A flash fiction. Even a short-story I can craft in a week or so.

Something out of my genre. Something in another style. Another tense. Another shape. Different. DIFFICULT.

Because for me, there's no fun in the routine. Yes, I'll finish the Doorways series when I stick to a routine, but would I carry on writing after that? I don't know. What I need is to explore. To continue learning. To overcome new obstacles.

And to go that, I need to stretch. And I need to stretch every day. I suspect most writers do. 

What about you? Do you make a point of stretching your writing? What do you do?

25 comments:

  1. That's an awesome idea to stretch your writing. That's one reason why I write so much flash fiction. It gives me time to try new things and experiment with writing.

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  2. Stretching can be incredibly difficult, but you're right, it does rekindle that challenge and passion for writing itself. :) Great post.

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  3. Hi- I don't stretch enough- but I do sometimes write short stories to rekindle my passion and energy. Life is so busy that I usually skip stretching- but should try to do more.

    I loved the post on Nutschell and it made me want to stop over and check out your blog. I love the format. :)
    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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  4. I try to stretch. I think that maybe I should write a story that has a female as a protagonist and do it in first person and have it be hetero instead of homo. That would be a stretch. Shocking huh?

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    1. Hahaha definitely would make one hell of a stretch. :-D

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  5. I took a two-week live workshop with some veterans in the SFF industry. Not only did they teach us to stretch, but I walked away with a better understanding of storytelling. My CPs noticed the change right away.

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  6. Oh, this is WONDERFUL. I work the same way--I've always done much better when I have two projects going at once, because I will inevitably get worn out and feel bone dry on one novel, and if I have another one I'm writing simultaneously, I can switch over to that one, refresh myself and get excited, and then I'll be inspired to work on the other one again. I've pushed myself out of all sorts of comfort zones--or I've slipped into novels that I found super easy and comfortable when I was writing one that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I think you pausing to write other things here and there is an excellent idea, and I hope it refreshes you on Doorways!!

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  7. I think you captured a lot when you said 'To continue learning.' As long as we move in different directions, there's no chance our writing will be stagnant.

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  8. Oh, you've hit the nail right on the head. I know I'm stuck in a groove, and it's not playing well.

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  9. i agree with almost everything King wrote in On Writing!
    concerning what you say about losing the thrill, i agree
    however, i've found (within the same novel) when i'm having fun writing a scene, that scene usually turns out to be good... but when im writing something that isn't fun, i've come to realize its my subconscious telling me this is wrong, it doesnt fit with the book.........

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  10. Stretching is a good idea. I consider editing/revising writing. Seems to take the same energy from me. But perhaps you're right and I should carve out separate writing time ... maybe in August. :)

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  11. Well said! Stretching into different projects can be great writing exercise.

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  12. Awesome post! I agree with you whole-heartedly. Stretching is good. I write a lot in my favorite genre, but I try to write one short story or flash piece a month that is outside of my genre. Sometimes it's fun, but other times, I really have to work for it. It can get frustrating, but in the end, I feel better for it.

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  13. What a wonderful idea, Misha. I've been wanting for a little while now to write something different just to stretch as you say. I'm thinking I may give a different genre a whirl for this year's NaNo. That way, if I fail or my writing is terrible, it will be in keeping with most other Novembers for me :-)

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  14. Good ideas! I have never written a book or anything like that, but I do find it helpful to also physically stretch when I'm trying to come up with new ideas or angles for whatever I'm working on. Writer's Yoga is amazing! And one of these days I'm going to read 'On Wriing'!

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  15. This post resonates with me. I'm caught in the middle of heavy edits at the moment and it seems like that's all I'm doing. I think it's important to write every day--or at least regularly.

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  16. Misha, this post completely resonates with me. I too am hoping to stretch myself as a writer, push the envelope and try different things else I will kind of stagnate.

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  17. This is a great reminder to all writers to move beyond their genre. When I wrote something for Golden Eagle's 'Evil Blogfest', it felt wonderful. I keep thinking about going back to it.

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  18. Wow. This was really encouraging. I don't stretch enough, especially once I start editing. In my "ideal world," I'd be working on a first draft and an edit of something else at the same time. I think doing both would feed my creativity. But my writing time is so limited, I've never tried.

    Has anyone else tried? Did it work for you?

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  19. You make a lot of sense, Misha, and I suppose in a way it worked for me. When I began writing, it was mostly in the SciFi & fantasy genres, but when I went on to do the historical fiction, I was told it was my best writing yet. Now that I have written two novels in the genre, I'm getting a little bogged down with the historical research and I should probably shift my attention to something completely different for awhile so I can get excited about writing again.

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  20. This is an interesting post. This is really encouraging.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  21. Well said, this would be a great help for aspiring writers and I know its difficult but once your there it would be such an amazing work:) goodluck!

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  22. I find creating a good sentence stretch enough for someone as befuddled as me! LOL! But I so agree!! I think to challenge oneself daily produces better results! Take care
    x

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  23. Hi Misha! I love how you were musing and "hashing things out" in this post! That's what I love about writers. The care that they apply to the craft.

    Bless you!

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