When you look at this picture is your initial reaction one of, “Dude! I totally want to do that?” Or do you shudder and snuggle closer into your armchair?
I think we all have sort of a built in knee-jerk tendency to go one way or the other. Some of us proceed more cautiously through life, weighing every risk and always choosing on the side of greatest possible safety. Some of us blaze our way through the days, taking advantage of every experience that presents itself without stopping to think about dangers.
When I started this post I was going to suggest that the way we tackle writing projects is probably very much the way we take on the rest of life. But as often happens, while I was writing the words I realized that the truth, at least for me, might lie down a different path entirely.
In real life situations, I’m cautious. No cliff jumping – I’m happy just swimming, thank you very much. And you can do the skydiving, I’ll watch from below or stay in the plane. Not interested in bungee jumping, or racing motorcycles or even parasailing.
But when it comes to writing, I’m all about the risk. I don’t worry about whether a project is too big or too complicated or too difficult, at least not until I’m already mired in the middle and it’s too late to turn back. When an exciting story idea comes to me I don’t stop to weigh all of the angles, plot out the scenes and figure out every little character motivation. Nope. I jump in, eyes wide shut, and write as fast as I can. In those situations, I tend to trust that the story knows what it’s doing and everything will sort itself out in the end. I have long moments of doubt, as everybody does, but somewhere at the bottom of things I believe that the plot will arc, the characters will grow, and there will be some sort of resolution at the end.
Sometimes I get myself into a mess, of course. Between went through so many rewrites and revisions to get into publishable form that almost everything from the original draft is gone. I very nearly gave up a couple of times. But there was always a trust somewhere, no matter how fragile, that everything would come out right in the end.
And so now I’m doing the same thing all over again with a brand new project – trusting that the characters and the ideas are going to all sort themselves into some sort of coherent whole by the time I’m through. And when the doubt hit? I just take it one word at a time and keep on writing.
So what about you? Are you a risk taker in real life? How about in your writing?
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