|There's always another way to write something.|
Writing is the same way. There are recipes out there already that are great, and writers who follow them thoroughly will automatically be better than the average bear. However, what makes a good writer stand out from other writers is the courage to experiment with something that's already working.
The most important thing a writer can do is write. The second most important thing a writer can do is experiment. That is, a writer needs to push the envelope and say something that either hasn't been said or say it in a way that creates the illusion that it's never been said.
Now, I'm not saying all writers need to become experimental writers in the sense that their work is hard to understand. Rather, I think it's important for writers to avoid becoming so predictable that their readers quit paying attention to what their reading--or worse, quit reading altogether.
Here Are 5 Ways to Experiment With Your Writing:
- Read new voices and imitate what you like. Many writers say they shy away from reading too much, because they don't want to be "influenced" or "steal from another writer." However, great artists do steal from other artists, whether they write songs, draw pictures, make movies, etc. You don't imitate the words, imitate the techniques.
- Apply concepts found in other disciplines. If you write fiction, learn about professional writing, poetry, and copywriting to provide ideas for experimenting with your stories. If you write poetry, do the same thing for your poems. And push beyond writing techniques to look at concepts in art, design, technology, cooking, etc.
- Pile things on. That is, push your writing to excess. Add more detail, more dialogue, more everything. Ramble. Throw in details that don't seem to relate to anything. Then, try to connect the dots or allow your readers to try and connect the dots for you.
- Strip things down. If your story has 2,000 words, cut it down to 200. If your poem has 20 lines, cut it to 2 lines. Strip things down to the most essential and then build it back up--unless it works in the stripped down version. Many times the most powerful writing is the most concise.
- Get random. Write about random subjects. Cut up the progression of your story or poem into random pieces. Cut a story into random time sequences. See how it alters your writing.
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