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Write What Scares You

I'm scared. My book is up for pre-order in two weeks.

Mostly because I worry no one will want to read it.

Sure, one-star reviews frighten me, and every criticism ranging from "Is this girl even a Christian? She has characters doing drugs in this book" to "dang, who taught her how to write?" can greet me in the foreseeable future. But I would take those reviews over no one picking up the book at all.

I chose avoid writing a happier book. Nothing against books that choose to have lighter tones, happier endings, or the most dramatic conflicts therein are if they'll get asked to the prom. I love reading something that uplifts me at the end. And I love writing it, too.

For me, writing happier stuff feels safer (not to say it's safe for everyone; I know for some people happy endings take a great deal of effort), and I know it would have a better time getting five-star reviews or more readers.

Blaze just isn't like that.

It has drugs, sex, and even, yes, rock and roll. It has bullying, divorce, hazing, and a great deal of arson (six accounts of it).

And it scared me to write it.

But it also burned up inside of me to write it. I just had to. There was no other way around it.

My mom and I like to watch Project Runway. I little too much at a time.

Most of the time, designers who keep it safe and don't take risks make it far, but eventually they reach a threshold where they have to present something innovative, fresh. A style they've never tampered with before. Otherwise the judges will send them home for not taking any chances.

They have to do something that scares them.

And yes, often it sends them to the bottom. It pushes them off the show.

Or it sends them to the next round with a cash prize in hand.

The same applies to writing. We can stick with safe designs, but eventually we reach a threshold where we have to do something scary.

Most people advise writers to write what they love. I agree, but I think it should go a step further. Writers should write what scares them. The one idea they hold tight in fear of what the world of critics will say. They should write that.

The characters who they've crafted for three years, the speculative setting they think would be too stupid to be taken seriously. The ideas that won't let them go to sleep.

They should write that.

And maybe it will fail.

But maybe it will be the design that takes them to the next step.


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