Monday, March 29, 2010

Writers should take those creative risks

It seems like at every job, there's that one task that's been done forever - and it's pointless. But if you question it, you get the inevitable response: "It's always been done that way." And it always will be.

Unfortunately, a lot of us can fall into the same trap with our writing. We always write in the first person. Or we always write mysteries. Or we always write poetry. And we always will. We fall into a rut. We become afraid to take chances, when in fact, as writers and artists, taking chances may be exactly what we need to expand our boundaries.

Years ago, I studied feng shui in a year-long affiliate course with Katherine Metz, who runs a practice called The Art of Placement. The course was wonderful, and at the end of the year, Katherine offered a workshop and get-together for all her affiliates in Redstone, Colorado, a remote little mountain town.

I excitedly signed up, expecting a few hands-on courses on feng shui. I got that and much, much more. In fact, Katherine had invited a whole collection of experts in different fields, all designed to help us get in touch with different parts of our artistic selves.

I fell in love with the beautiful mountain town. Katherine and the other guests were incredibly friendly and welcoming. But I took one look at the agenda and froze. There was a workshop that involved singing. Another, poetry. And for someone who still thought of herself as a reporter - a writer, sure, but one more comfortable interviewing others - it all seemed waaay too touchy-feely and introspective. I was somewhat frantic. I also was miles away from civilization, in a remote mountain town. I was trapped.

So I sang. And when the first note came out of my mouth, the instructor stopped me. "Dear," she said. "I can't hear you ... somehow, you've hit a note I can't hear."

Ahh, the fear note. So I sang another, one she could hear. And another. And I sang a song.

Then, in another workshop, I created poetry - that we then shared with the entire group. I remember at the beginning, I was so incredibly uncomfortable, standing there, with my horrible, crappy, poem, I nearly wept. But I was never so proud as when I finished my reading. And the group clapped.

By the last day, I was elated. I felt like I could do anything - write anything. And that, I think is the point of creative risk taking. Try something new. Learn something different. Empower yourself, and you might just be surprised where it leads.

And you don't even have to go to the mountains to try it.

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