Risk-Taking Writers

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The question being asked this month for April 2021 is: Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

Risk-Taking Writers

Something I’ve noticed over the years about writers and their writings: the more risks the writer takes, the better the odds of selling that work.

Even though publishers and agents say they’re looking for XYZ, which is usually the new and different story that’s become a blockbuster or best-selling sensation, wanting to ride the wave of popularity for that kind of story, what they’re really looking for is something that hasn’t been done before, because that’s exactly what that XYZ story has done

When I started writing Grendel’s Mother, I knew I was taking a risk. Purposefully. My vision was that Grendel’s Mother would be read in English literature classrooms, alongside Beowulf, and I saw Grendel’s Mother, too, as a commercial entity much like Clan of the Cave Bear. I was amazed how other writers with no real authority—meaning as publishers, purchasers of manuscripts—told me that I had to choose; it couldn’t be both. And yet, many of the current fictional bestsellers are both. Did they not recognize or understand the difference of literary books from commercials books?

I wrote and published it anymore. The readers are in two camps, most appear to like it. Some don’t, but then they didn’t like Clan of the Cave Bear either.

As writers, we take risks every day, exposing ourselves, even if minute pieces of ourselves, in our stories.

As writers, we take risks knowing we’ll draw both the fans who love our work and the critics who will tear it apart. Not liking some while others love it is pure human nature. There are lots of books that I don’t like, but I also recognize I don’t have to like everything. We’re not meant to agree on everything.

As writers, we take risks when writing against the norm, then being told by non-writers and specific genre writers that it can’t be done, whether it’s the subject matter, the POV, the tense used, or the type of character.

I do it anyway. I don’t listen to the noise.

I write what interests me. Some ideas are risky, some not; but I’ve noticed that the riskier the idea, the more excited I become about the writing.

Innovators are risk takers. Innovators push the boundaries, and an innovative writer will push the boundaries of genre, style, characterization, narrative, plot, and even punctuation. They follow their own vision regardless of trends.

It’s that how new trends start?


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

About Diana Stout

Screenwriter, author, former English professor
This entry was posted in #amwriting, #IWSG. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Risk-Taking Writers

  1. patgarcia says:

    Hi,
    I agree with everything you’ve said. I read John Gardner’s Grendel and loved it. I cross lines too and I don’t write according to public opinion.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nancygideon says:

    If I’d listened to every “You can’t do that!” I’d have never done anything. LOVED your Grendel take!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Diane Burton says:

    We stagnate if we don’t take risks. The publishing bean counters decide everything, anyway. So, write what you want, how you want. It’s your story.

    Like

  4. Oh there is so much negative noise out there. I’m with you. I put on the ear muffs and just write what’s in my mind and heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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