Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Push Your Limits As A Writer

It is easy to fall into the habit of writing what we know and writing what we are comfortable with. As humans, we like the comfort of knowing outcomes and knowing things are going to be OK in the end. But, as writers, to really grow and transform your writing, it will require trying new things. And sometimes it will be uncomfortable.

The publishing world is constantly changing and that requires being flexible with your own writing. This flexibility will also allow you to grow and change with the times.

As an agent, this is something I see a lot with writers who may have had a career several years ago and then decide to come back into writing. When I read that story, I find the voice is just not there. The writing is still something that sounds like it was written years ago, even though it might have just been finished a month early. That writer simply has not changed with the time.

I see this also with a lot of writers who have a couple of great stories. As readers, we really get excited! We have a new author that we can start investing in. But then something happens. As we read more stories, we find that it is as if we are reading the "same old thing." There just isn't anything new.

Writing out of our comfort zone is tough, but it does make us stronger writers. This gives us a chance to see what are true strengths and weaknesses are. It also gives us guidance as to what we know we are going to need to improve on, as well as what areas we might just have to avoid for future projects.

I understand there is a risk of failure here, but that is OK. From that lack of success we can grow and find new successes later on.


  1. If you have time, would you mind going a little deeper with this topic. I'm afraid I didn't quite catch it and I don't want to miss your point. Specifically: "Trying new things", "Reading the same old thing", and "Writing outside our comfort zone". Are you advising authors to explore genres other than what they usually write? Or saying that writers need to continually find fresh subject matter for their stories? Or are you discussing evolving writing techniques?

    Also, if a writer is supposed to develop a unique voice and style that is all theirs, how does "trying new things" and "outside the comfort zone not undermine that unique voice?

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate your blog and learn so much from it. Kate M

  2. Hi, Scott, I have some of the same questions that Kate asked. If you are developing a voice, how does trying out new things affect that? Are you talking about writing in different genres? Switching from fiction to nonfiction? Poetry? I read your posts avidly, and always find them helpful. But, like Kate, I could benefit from a little more exploration of this topic. Thanks.