Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taking Risks - Writing without a Net

Either I play too many board games or I just find they work into what I want to blog about.

Today I want to talk about taking risks. I find the actual word “risk” kind of...menacing. I don’t know why. It’s one syllable, it ends in sk. It’s short and like brisk, it’s cold. You could call my house and instead of breathing heavy or asking me trivia questions about my favorite scary movie, you could say “risk” and I’ll gasp, drop the phone, and run down the hall shrieking. I swear I won't fall. Hmm, sounds like I have a bit of a complex with the word risk. Even when I play the game Risk, I play it safe.

"You've gotta risk it to get the biscuit"
from the movie Fired Up

It's a catchy quote and very true. Sometimes you have to do what shakes you up and what freaks you right out.

When you put yourself out there, a shift happens. Old, stagnant energy gets stirred up and moving. Stagnant isn't good. It leaves you open and vulnerable. It leaves you less prepared to handle the unexpected. If you’re lying around like a pile of leaves and a big gust of wind comes along – you’re mobile, like it or not. You’re going to land somewhere new and have to figure out where to go from there. Learning to take risks and managing the fear behind taking risks will set you up for a better way of handling stress.

Say you want to try a new job. Maybe you don't have all the skills they're looking for, but you have other skills. That new job caught your attention and sounds promising, but you talk yourself out of it because you're used to being stagnant, and change sounds too much like work. You might be missing out on an exciting opportunity. Change really is good, and we’re all very adaptable about change even if we don't like to admit it.

When it comes to writing, the moment we put our work out there and share our creations, we take a risk. When it goes to publishers, editors, agents, reviewers, readers, and our families, we take a risk. But it can’t be too bad because we keep doing it. Maybe your creativity has fallen short...why not try a new genre? Look at the books in your bookshelf. What do you like to read most? Is that the genre you're writing in? See if writing something outside of your comfort box sparks new interest and creativity.

Don't get yourself so stuck that you believe you aren't capable of greatness. Comfortable is nice for a little while, but comfortable borderlines that easy thing, and often comes with a price.

The object of the game Risk is to conquer the world. You use strategy and create a game plan. You attack opponents and defend territories. Little by little you take over the next territory and the next territory. I'm not suggesting that you should go all Rambo, no need to get violent, but say you want to be on the NYT bestseller list, then you better know how to strategize, take charge, and prove your worth. You create a brand, make a business plan, and put your best work forward. You take all the necessary steps, even if they're scary, because you want the success.

Say you have to talk in front of a large group and you're shy. The thing is, you know what you're going to get up and talk about. You have the tools and skills behind you to back up each word. Stand up and say it. Your words may be of great value to someone else. Your experiences may be what propels someone into action when they've fallen stagnant.

Say you have a book to pitch to an agent and you believe that you'll freeze up. Take that risk. You wrote the book, you know it. The characters have slept at your place, ate dinner with you, and hung out to watch movies...though they mysteriously disappear when it's time to do the laundry or dishes. They've argued with you, ignored you, and played "let's hide the plot". You know the book - it's yours - lovingly created and crafted by YOU. YOU are the best spokesperson for your book!

Change can give you a personal, professional, and creative boost. Don't get so comfortable that you forget about that greatness in you. Start with small risks and work your way up. Little steps. Conquer the fear. Kick stagnant to the curb.

Take a risk - the outcome might be victorious :)

Ann Cory


Mona Karel said...

Great advice, thanks! There is or at least was a "Risk" board game set in a fantasy world, called "Wizard's Quest" which we played obsessively.
You'll be inspiring a lot of on the fence writers today.

Margaret Fieland said...

Terrific post. I only started writing fiction because the woman running the poetry forum I wanted to join insisted that everyone join the fiction forum as well. I had, at the time, convinced myself that I'd never, ever write fiction {shakes head}. And why not? Just never occurred to me to first of all, try it, and second of all, that I'd like it.

Ann Cory said...

Thank you Mona :) And thank you for stopping by! Oooh, I'll have to checkout Wizard's Quest - like the name. Hope you have a wonderful day.

Ann Cory said...

Very much appreciated, Margaret :) Those little steps we take can turn into so much more! How wonderful that you took that step and now get to write both poetry and fiction!

:) Thanks for popping by!

Michelle Muse said...

Don't get yourself so stuck that you believe you aren't capable of greatness.

I think this one will have to be written and looked at for awhile...and you posted this at 4 something am??? You are amazing! Keep on taking those risks. It's working for ya!! :)

Carole St-Laurent said...

Loved your blog. Risk, like change, can be good.

Ann Cory said...

Thanks Michelle :) I truly believe we all have some serious greatness in ourselves that by changing things up can help reveal it to us.

Proud of you hon! :)

Ann Cory said...

Thank you Carole :) I'm so thrilled you stopped by! It means a lot. Keep taking those risks!!

Romantic Heretic said...

Last time I took a risk with writing I didn't get out with a whole skin. It was such a miserable experience I've hardly written since. The reward just wasn't worth the effort and energy I put into it.

Hopefully I'll be writing again soon but for now I'm licking my wounds.

Ann Cory said...

I'm sorry to hear that Romantic Heretic! I hope that changes for you soon.