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WRITE WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW

“Write what you know” is the mantra of many a writers’ workshop. But consider writing what you don’t know. And by this I mean: why not try something new or different?

 

Three or four times a year I enter writing contests thereby challenging myself to write for a different genre, a different age group or in a point of view I usually avoid. I treat contest prompts as writing assignments, and no matter what the outcome, I submit my end product by the contest deadline. Great story ideas hide behind my fear of the unknown. I discover new talents and surprise, surprise, actually enjoy the torture challenge.

 

Contests are a good way to break a creative rut, mend writer’s block or jump start your mojo. In my post a couple of days ago, I whined talked about having the middle of the project blues. Yesterday, I took a break from laboring on my current manuscript and seized a contest prompt from Writer’s Digest magazine. It turns out that not only was my short story for adults instead of children, but it also has a man’s first person point of view. I had played with different ideas until – Eureka moment – 29 year old Barry’s voice was suddenly very loud in my head. After that the story just kind of poured onto the page. I enjoyed a thrilling brief vacation from my current project and on returning “home” refreshed and rejuvenated, found that my project’s magic had rekindled. The blues have gone bye-byes.

 

Entering writing contests has worked out well for me in the past. I won $100 for a 5th place fantasy adventure story and later realized that inside that short story lurked a middle-grade fantasy adventure novel.

 

I never considered myself a writer of humor (horror yes, humor no) but one contest entry was later critiqued by an editor as “the funniest manuscript to cross her desk in a long time.” This prompted me to try my hand at a couple more humorous picture books and an easy-reader.

 

The take home point here (in a somewhat long winded way) is that because I was having fun trying something new or different, the end results turned out promising and learned something about myself and my writing.


Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
kellyrfineman
Feb. 20th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
The short story sounds really cool - do I get to see it?
angeladegroot
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Let me give it some spit and polish and then certainly, I'd love for you to take a look at it.
kellyrfineman
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Hooray!!
(Deleted comment)
angeladegroot
Feb. 21st, 2009 12:25 am (UTC)
Baie Dankie. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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