Monday, June 27, 2011

How Many Risks Are You Willing To Take?

I was pointed to this article via Debbie Ohi (@inkygirl on Twitter) written by the always brilliant Ms. Jane Friedman. It was full of helpful questions and thoughtful observations about what it takes to become a successful writer. And it's not always about talent. It is a lot about how how many risks you take and how you respond to failure.

There is one line that really caught my attention. Ms. Friedman says

"It’s the old cliché: Nothing risked, nothing gained. Playing it safe as a writer will lead to mediocre writing at best. If you’re not failing, you’re not shooting high enough."

Which made me think about the kind of person I am and whether I have enough courage to take the risks I need to challenge myself - both as a person and as a writer. I'm a cautious person by nature. I think things through and weigh the pros and cons of every decision. I'm a slow and steady wins the race kind of gal who is comfortable with a certain level of routine and a need to plan ahead so there are few to little surprises in store (did I mention I hate surprise birthday parties, too?) Makes me sound pretty dull and boring, no? Yeah, that's what I think too. But there is one thing about me that balances that cautionary nature out: once I make a decision, there is no looking back and re-assessing or regretting that decision. It is what it is and I will make the best of it and learn and grow from that decision.

Lately, I've been feeling the need to challenge myself more - and not only in writing but with other areas of life. I have felt that lack of challenge creating a restlessness within me. Now, with so many changes happening on the home front I am also looking to challenge myself on the writing front. How that will turn out, I don't know. But I do know that if I don't risk some things nothing will change and human beings have survived and dominated because they have adapted best to change.

Change, risk, failing, getting up again, trying something new, challenging the status quo, facing your fears, leaping into the great unknown - however you wish to describe it - is necessary and vital to keep you from becoming complacent and bored. And is that how you really want to feel on a daily basis? Not me. So, say it with me folks, a little risk is a good thing. If I fail it meant I at least tried.


  1. I love to challenge myself, especially in my writing. It's fun to force yourself to step outside your comfort zone. And really it's the only way to see what you are capable of.

  2. Hi Kelly! You sound like a fearless writer! Good for you!