Monday, January 27, 2014

Stretching Yourself

Okay, so I've been writing for a while now. Years, even. That certainly doesn't mean I know everything; pursuing something creative is a never-ending quest to find what is beautiful.

One of the best ways for me to come back to what I love most about writing is to stretch myself. Then I enjoy the creative wrestling with figuring out the exact right word to use, finding the perfect voice for each character, and/or discovering the style each story should have.

I've gone through a couple of these "stretching periods," where I analyze the way I've been writing and desire to renew myself and my craft by trying something new.

I think employing this idea of stretching yourself is one of the best ways to combat the feelings of inferiority and jealousy that can be prevalent in this industry. I think we have to be consistently (not constantly) thinking about how we can improve ourselves.

Many of us do this in our personal lives. We try to be kinder to others; we set physical health goals; we endeavor to try new recipes or a new hobby.

We can apply this to our writing as well. It's how ELEVATED came to be. I had written about 100 pages of the book, and I was stuck. I couldn't figure out how to end it, or even where to go next.

I'm not sure what prompted me to try writing in verse, but I did. And it stretched me as a writer in ways I didn't anticipate.

I sort of feel like I'm on the cusp of another stretching period. I've written a fair few books now, and I want to try something new. A new genre. A new POV. A new style. Something. Not sure what yet, but I'll figure it out.

What do you think? Have you experienced any stretching periods? What have you done to stretch yourself creatively?

12 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

yes, I do enjoy trying new styles, new genres or new approaches to the same genre. I think i grow the most as a writer during those times.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I agree, definitely. Whether it's a new and completely different character or a genre, I think renewing our style and voice is one of the perks of being a writer. in what other jobs can you just decide to up and change how you do things?

SA Larsenッ said...

I have to say those periods where 'some force' pushes us to stretch irritate me. However, I know they're necessary. I always find I've learned something new about the craft and about myself after those periods. I had a similar 'stuck' experience with my current WIP. So, for some odd reason, I started writing a short story in another genre--one I'd never written in before. Glad I did, because it's being published soon.

Karen Lange said...

I think stretching is a great thing - for our writing and our lives. I like to try different writing styles and exercises. Like you, I'm always a little surprised at how much I learn.

ilima said...

Thinking about writing a novel in verse scares the crap out of me. I do have one book that I have to work on in shifts because the voice is really hard but so powerful...that's my stretch right now.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome you could stretch yourself to write in verse. I don't think I could go that far with my own writing.

But yes, it's good to stretch and grow as a writer no matter where we are in the publishing process.

Pam Torres said...

Stretching. What a great way to describe trying something new. I'm currently trying a new genre and it's definitely pushing my ability to the edge. I've been close reading authors . I examine several books from their body of work for style, common themes and unique voice. I always find that it teaches me so much and it spills over into my writing.

Jessie Humphries said...

Geesh, I don't know. I feel pretty stretched to the limit right about frickin' now! ;( *angry mood*

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Writing historical fiction was a stretch for me. I didn't think I could pull of a period piece -- until I tried it. I ended up writing six historical fiction novels, two of which were published.

Then, when I got an idea for a fantasy, I didn't think I had the world-building skills to do it -- until I tried it. The book I wrote became my first 3-book deal.

So, at this point, I have to conclude that I can pull off anything if I really want to do it -- even if it's risky and a stretch. But I still have moments of massive insecurity and have to remind myself of those past risks that paid off.

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Kathryn Purdie said...

It seems like every book has stretched me tons. I usually have to think about them for a few months before writing so I can get up the guts to finally tackle them. I'm rewriting a book right now with a completely different setting. It's stretching me to let go of some plot elements and characters from the original that just won't fit in this reimagined world. Yes, definitely a stretch. And my next novel ideas will be huge stretches for me. But writing a novel in verse? You take the cake!

Kim Van Sickler said...

What haven't I done? Call me Gumby. (I'm still trying to "find" my true self and I've been doing this for years too.)

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