The Stagnant Writer

Remember the days when you thought you knew everything? I’m not talking about when you were a teenager, I mean in your writing life. I remember those days fondly, where I sat at my laptop and forged ahead, unafraid of making mistakes, of using adverbs, of using the same descriptor for every character. Too many words, too little plot, not enough character development. It’s like being really young again. You don’t know you can get it wrong, so you aren’t afraid to try.

Many of the writers I’ve met along the way have told me to write dangerously. Get outside my comfort zone. Write about things that make me uncomfortable, things that make others uncomfortable. Tackle projects bigger than myself. Write the unknown. Read, read, read and learn, learn, learn.

What’s ironic about this advice, is that it often comes from someone terrified to heed their own words. I’m guilty of this. I’m the first person to tell someone, I believe in you, and also the first person not to believe in myself.

As writers, we have two choices, we can stagnate, stay comfortable in our little niche, or we can reach out and learn. But to truly learn, we must first make ourselves vulnerable to the fact that we don’t know it all. Aside from not knowing everything, trends in writing and publishing are constantly changing. What you knew ten years ago may no longer be relevant. There may be brilliance in learning something new. But only if you’re willing to put yourself out there and risk making mistakes. And, gasp, maybe get rejected.

Writers are a society of introverts. Consult your writer friends. I guarantee you 90% of them will tell you they’re introverted. They want to reach out, take a class, ask for help, but the thought of rejection keeps them rooted in place. So instead, they burrow down, safe in their own knowledge, where no one can tell them they’re wrong. And from their isolated safety, they shout their advice to others: Branch out! Take a chance! All with zero intention of doing it themselves.

Don’t be that writer. Don’t be the person who stagnates. Be the person who takes a chance. Be the writer who flourishes.

It’s impossible to know everything, but it’s not impossible to keep trying.

What chance will you take today?

If you need me, I’ll just be over here, heeding my own advice.

qcglzchm_400x400K.C. Karr writes about brave teenagers and unfortunate situations. As a former high school winterguard coach, she finds that young voices tell the best, most truthful stories. She’s been an editor, a social media director, and longtime member of the critique group Flint Area Writers. K.C. is currently working toward becoming a certified book coach through Author Accelerator and is a proud YA mentor in this year’s #WriteMentor contest. @kacimari

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