Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Push your Limits

If there’s one thing I’ve come to realise, it’s that mistakes breed success. Justine Musk made a post about it not long ago. But that’s not what I want to say here.

When you practise something (with the intention of getting better at it) repetition is usually the key. If you repeat the thing enough, you get better. But that’s not entirely true. In order to grow, you need to push yourself. Challenge your limits. Much like strength training, if you repeat what you already do easily, you won’t get better. You need to push your limit and challenge your ability.

When it comes to writing, finding a limit is pretty hard. Writing is writing, right? But perhaps there is more to it than that. Look at your own writing, and chances are, you’ll see something that is less than you want it to be. Say, you don’t do well with a strong plot line. In other words, you’ve become reliant on other elements to keep your story upright.

Every writer can work on that which makes him or her struggle. If your plots are generally weak, try writing a story in which your plot carries your story. Don’t let go of the other elements, but push yourself to make the weaker part stronger.

Maybe it’s not so easy to identify a weakness, or maybe there isn’t a specific problem. In that case, the key lies in boundaries. Limits. Say, giving yourself a time limit to finish a project. This works best if someone else is calling the shots (especially if you’ve already taken money from them and need to deliver). The pressure might be pretty high, but in that environment, your ideas might just flow better (or maybe it just forces you to finish the story even though you don’t like it).

Challenge your abilities. That’s the only way to make them better. Do something your not used to and practise it. Each word you write will send you a step closer to achieving whatever writing goal you’re aiming at.


In other news, remember that Stories for Sendai comes out the 30th of June. Buy a copy to read stories and poems from awesome writers (and one from me) and help Japan in the process.

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