Sep 05 2018
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Put yourself “out there” with this writing exercise

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie offers a fun writing exercise that will help you step outside of your own comfort zone and take more risks in your writing.

One of my all-time favorite (and well-written!) TV shows is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and one of my all-time favorite moments from the show is when the character Spike, a vampire, tells the heroine he loves her. It’s a risk. A huge one. His affection is not well-received. He puts his heart out there and has it stomped, but he takes the risk because if he didn’t, well, he might as well be dead, not just undead.

Spike chooses to live through the action of confessing his love. Writers choose to live through the action of writing. Both actions come with risks that might make us hesitate, but which could yield amazing results.

Not sure about a story idea? You could run it by someone, but speaking our stories out loud before we’ve developed them can result in a pile of abandoned ideas. Giving voice to a story is similar to writing it, meaning once it’s said aloud, you can lose the writing impetus.

So write the idea instead. Try it out. Take a risk. Maybe it won’t be the winner you imagine with that first flush of creativity, but it could be.

The long and short of it is that we risk so much more by not writing than by writing. So what if your draft is terrible? Writing it was excellent practice. You flexed your artist muscles and kept yourself fit for when the next creative light bulb flicks on.

“We risk so much more by not writing than by writing.”

Exercise

Just for fun, take five minutes to make a list of stories you never intend to write. For 10 minutes, draft one of those stories. This exercise removes expectation from the writing process. It doesn’t matter if your draft is great or terrible. You were never going to write this story, anyway!

But now that you have, mine it for excellent turns of phrase or develop it further. It’s not really a risk itself, but choosing to write outside the box can shake loose new and potentially risky ideas. Where you go from there is up to you.

Happy writing!

Will you try this writing exercise? Let us know how it goes in the comments!

Related reading: Take yourself seriously as a writer in 3 steps

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