Category Archives: Risk-taking

looking for front stabbers

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You trust someone, and then you’re stabbed in the back. Hurts, doesn’t it? Ever thought of inviting someone to stab you in the front? Sure, that’d hurt too. But it’d be a constructive versus destructive brand of pain. Okay okay, I know that sounds strange, maybe even a little creepy, but please stick with me for a few more sentences, and I’ll explain as best I can.

See, even though writing by its nature is a solo sport, that doesn’t mean you can’t invite others to join your team. By others, I mean other writers who can give constructive criticism–aka stab you in the front, to hit you where it hurts most–right in your writing.

Losing weight, staying on track with an exercise regime, even cleaning out the garage, are all easier if you have at least one person to come alongside you support, encourage–maybe even push–you. Why should writing be any different? If you’re frustrated with your lack of progress, either in term of pages or improvement, consider opening yourself up to a good, ol’ fashioned front stab.

[At least] three things are certain:

1. Someone pushing you without your permission will only make you want to push back.

2. You need to ask someone to hold you accountable. Nobody volunteers for that job, but most people will say yes if you invite them, especially if you’re willing to reciprocate.

3. You will make better and faster progress with accountability and input, than you will without it.

This is why I am so grateful for my critique group. They’re a friendly bunch of front stabbers who want me to become a better writer and I’m happy to help them do the same.

If you feel stuck with your writing, let me encourage you seek out your own critique group (ask around on Facebook, via your SCBWI chapter list serve or your local library). If a group isn’t already in place, start one. And remember, you don’t have to let geography limit you. Online critique groups can work very well and can include writers from all over the planet, if you like. (I suggest keeping your group Earth-bound. Anything beyond that can get too complicated.) If joining/starting a group sounds like too long of a leap, consider partnering with another writer and setting up a regular schedule for exchanging pages.

Connecting with other writers for criticism and accountability will make a positive difference for you. I promise.

G’head. Take a stab at it.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Psalm 27:17

My thanks to Ben Redmond, Director of Student Ministries at the Hub, for inspiring this post. He’s a wise man.

the importance of living dangerously

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

I am not a risk-taker, generally speaking. I wear my seat belt, hand sanitizer and sunscreen. Brush twice a day. Eat my burgers fully cooked and avoid stepping on sidewalk cracks.

Yes, I’ve been on the back of a motorcycle (once). I floated in the gondola of a hot air balloon, sat in the front seat of a whirling helicopter, cuddled with a Burmese python, sang an original song to hundreds while wearing a helmet with horns and even walked the streets of Chicago’s north side, but those were exceptions to my usual play-it-safe life. Oh, and once, I even used a public restroom without putting one of those paper doilies on the seat first. So, yep, I guess you could say I’ve sauntered on the wild side a time or two. (I saw you roll your eyes, by the way!)

But here’s what I know: you get what you risk for (or at the very least, you up your chances exponentially).

This spring, comedian Jim Carrey addressed the graduating class of Maharishi School of Management in Iowa. In a rare moment of transparency, Carrey shared how his father had the potential to be professional comedian, but opted to become an accountant because he thought it was the safer choice. It was not. He lost his job.

“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality,” Carrey said. “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

Is there a polished manuscript that’s “circling the airport” because you’re afraid of rejection? Submit it.
Is there an agent you want to query? Do it.

Feel the fear, but do what you want to do anyway. You can do this. (And I will join you.)

A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it is built for. ~ Albert Einstein