Challenging Yourself as a Writer

As writers, it’s all too easy to fall into a rhythm. Some call it the sweet spot, where your writing process and your creative ideas all come together and you are able to produce stories that both the author and the readers enjoy. Yes, this sweet spot is definitely…well, um sweet, and many authors want to pull up a chair and just spend the rest of their days hanging out there.

But like all creatives, part of the experience of being a writer is to challenge ourselves. We might try writing from a different point of view or change where we write or even explore a new genre. Making small changes lets us test the waters and, hopefully, grow as writers. Such growth is important because without it writing can start to feel stale or even stagnant while readers’ tastes continue to evolve and shift. Just look at how different the writing styles of authors from different eras are. Edgar Allen Poe’s writing is decidedly different from Stephen King’s because both men have been influenced by the readers of their times. Even looking at King’s earliest work compared to his later works, readers can see differences. Authors who refuse to push their own boundaries can fall out of readers’ favor all too quickly. [Tweet “Part of the experience of being a writer is to challenge ourselves”]

Today’s publishing landscape is changing at lightning fast speeds, and more than ever before readers are an integral part of the writing process. So it only seems natural to attempt to merge the two ideas: challenging oneself as an author while incorporating reader feedback. What better way to really push yourself as a writer than by opening your work up to immediate reaction while you are in the thick of the writing process?

Okay, yes, I can think of a variety of reasons why writers would not want to do this, most  notably because it would be like having hundreds (thousands? millions?) of editors second-guessing every word you write as you write it, which sounds about as fun as having a root canal. Yet if authors aren’t willing to take some chances with their writing and experiment with how they write, how can they continue to grow and hone their craft?

This month (September), I have agreed to embrace the challenge: I will be participating with a group of other writers in what we are calling the Twitter novella. Throughout the month, I will be writing and posting a new novella to my Twitter feed (@CJaiFerry). I have not written the novella out in advance. I will write it organically, three to five 100+-character sentences a day, and share it via Twitter. Each of the participating authors is approaching the challenge in their own way, but we all share a similar goal of trying something new.

As with all experiments, the chance of failure exists. I might not have a single interaction with my readers during the writing process. My novella might flounder about and lose steam halfway through the month. I might go several days without posting a single sentence. I might become so scared of writing the next sentence that I go hide in a corner until Christmas. I will inevitably write some real duds in the coming month.

But I might also find an inspiration that I didn’t know existed, or craft the perfect sentence and send it out into the interwebs. I might discover a beautifully flawed character that demands her own novel or push myself so hard to find the precise word or phrasing that the heavens part and rain down a never-ending stream of Dr. Pepper (my caffeine of choice).

No matter what happens, by putting myself in an uncomfortable and novel situation, I will learn something about myself as a writer and a creative type, which will make me better at my craft. For me, that is the greatest reward, and it is a reward I can share with all of my readers.

Check out my Twitter novella page to see which authors are participating and to follow along with all of our stories. 


  • What a great idea! How inspiring! Will definitely check it out. Speaking of Stephen King, I was just thinking how much your wrtiting style reminds me of him!

    Mary PapasJanuary 2, 2015
    • Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Edgar Allen Poe — all faves of mine when I was young and impressionable 🙂

      C. JaiJanuary 2, 2015

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