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Although writing is, by definition, a creative process, it is still possible to become “stuck in a rut.” That can happen when we write only on the same topics or in the same genre, when we work only for the same magazines or clients, when our writing routine is set in stone (only in the morning, only in the coffee shop, only on weekends).
Being in a writing rut can be detrimental to our creative spirit and our self-confidence. When we restrict our imagination to the same track, it becomes evident in the finished process. We use the same phrases—the same verbal layout, so to speak—that worked the first time, and the second, and the third and often don’t notice it until someone else calls attention to it. (When a friend of mine read an early draft of my first novel, he pointed out that two of my characters used the same phrase—“truth be told”—and that I needed to decide once and for all who “owned” it!)
Our work becomes stale, boring and repetitive because we have gotten lazy, complacent and unwilling to challenge ourselves.
What’s worse is the insidious effect a writing rut can have on our self-confidence level. Many times, we avoid taking risks with our writing—exploring new writing forms or subjects—because deep down inside we are afraid: afraid we can’t pull it off, afraid that our ignorance will become evident to the whole world, afraid, in short, that we will fail.
We stick with what we know because we believe subconsciously that that is all we can know, return to what we have done in the past because that might be all we can do in the future.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with establishing a reputation as a health journalist or a novelist or a marketing writer, we should push ourselves outside those self-defined limits periodically to see what else we are capable of becoming.
And it doesn’t matter whether we succeed or fail. As Dame Sybil Thorndike once said, “One should never be sorry one has attempted something new—never, never, never!” It’s the effort that is important, not the outcome. It’s the challenge that strengthens us as writers and as individuals.
Web site: www.nancychristie.com
Blog: The Writer’s Place