If you’re like me, you hesitate to take chances with your writing. What if it screws everything up? What if it goes nowhere? What if it’s a waste of time?
The most triumphant of tales follow a specific story arc that we as writers must replicate in order to be successful in writing our own books. Yet the most memorable of stories are those that take chances, ones that do something so different enough that it stands out as genius among a sea of shelves stocked with hardcover novels.
But how do we get there?
Taking chances with your writing isn’t a spontaneous hobby—it has to be a habit. Like a muscle, it must be exercised and recognized as an option in order for you to willing take on the practice in your own writing.
Here’s a Story on Taking Chances
I needed to take forced PTO. Well, not exactly forced—more like use-it-or-lose-it paid time off. I was about to cap on my PTO hours, so I took off Friday afternoon.
I didn’t have any plans. After a whirlwind week of back-to-back meetings, emailed requests and long work-from-home nights, Friday seemed to sneak up on me. So when the figurative bell rang at noon for me to leave, I chose to see where the day would take me.
My afternoon started with a lovely lunch with my parents. Once we parted ways, I took another chance. Since the restaurant was surrounded by a complex of stores (and I didn’t want to lose my rightfully-claimed parking spot), it only seemed sensical to go shopping.
Lately, shopping is dangerous for me. Now that I don’t have to pay for student loans or car loans, I have some spare cash each month for treating myself. After three stores and two shopping bags later, I had enough clothes to satisfy my fashion cravings.
As I walked towards my parked car, I decided to stop in just one more store along the way. A running peer of mine works at their corporate office and told me that this particular store (because of its close proximity to the Home Office) was where the company tested new trends before rolling them out across the nation.
I took a chance and walked in. As I was shopping, a woman who I assumed to work at that store approached me and asked about my shopping experience. Turns out she also works at the corporate office and wanted to see if I would try on some new upcoming dresses and rompers for their spring line and give my opinion on each garment.
Who would say no to that?
What Does All of This Have to Do with Writing?
My afternoon of no plans escalated into an exciting four hours of fun—all because I decided to take chances and go with the flow. As a person who likes to have a rough plan on how my upcoming day is going to go, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed not having plans.
This got me thinking about my writing. Can I be more willing to take chances with my writing? If I was more accepting of going with the flow, where can I take my story?
Ways You Can Take Chances with Your Writing
Ready to ease up your grip on your story? Here are some ways to get you in the practice of taking chances with your writing, be it outside of your main story or within the initial draft pages.
Begin your writing session with a writing warmup. Find the most outrageous writing prompt and let yourself see how extreme you can take it. Getting in the pattern of taking chances in your writing, even for 750 words, can soon translate into your bigger writing project.
Double the Danger
Review a scene that has conflict. What is at stake for each of the characters? How can you heighten those stakes? How can you amplify the situation so that it seems more impossible to resolve? If you’re able to take chances in your writing within a single scene of your work, imagine how you can accelerate the climax of your story.
Reverse the Norm
Make a list of everything in your story that’s expected or follows regular storytelling procedure. Now circle one thing on your list and flip it to its opposite or radical extreme (for example, the blue sky is now green or the story is now told from the perspective of a chair) How does this impact your characters and the story arc?
How to Take Chances with Your Writing
Now you know why you can benefit from taking chances with your writing and ways you can take chances with your writing. But exactly how do you go through with it?
Conquer Your Internal Fears
The only person holding yourself back from taking chances with your writing is you. Risks can’t be taken if you maintain a constant fear of disappointment. There’s as much of a chance that the risk can end negatively as it can positively. And who wants to regret not taking a chance at all?
Still not convinced? If fear cripples how you approach your writing, try these ways to conquer your inner fears.
Eliminate “No” from Your Vocabulary
Should I test out this idea in my story? The answer should always be YES. People that take chances don’t say “no” to opportunity—they embrace possibility.
Make a pact with yourself for a week not to say no. How did this change the outcome of your week? If you’re able to be flexible in your personal life, there’s also room to grow in your writing.
Trust Your Instincts
Whether it’s your gut, hunch or intuition, trusting yourself is key in taking chances with your writing since it’s you that is taking the action. If the thought what-if crossed your mind, perhaps deep down you know there’s a probability that it will pan out positively for your story.
Sometimes we tend to trust others more than ourselves because they’re labeled as experts or hold a high position of regard in your life. But only you knows what your story can be and become. So if a spark of an idea flickers in your mind, let your eyes wander towards the light and your creativity ignite the flame.