When Can You Grab This Opportunity?

I just returned from a (fiction) writing workshop this week. I learned a ton about craft, selling short stories, and publishing short stories. One of my big learnings: I play it safe too often with my writing. The stakes for the characters aren’t big enough.

This is an opportunity for me. I can take this feedback and experiment. I’m grabbing this opportunity.

It’s a little scary.

I’ve had some small successes in my fiction writing. (I’ve sold a half-dozen stories over the past three years. I have a crazy-big inventory of stories I need to see if I can sell.) And, I could continue to progress in small ways, as I’ve progressed so far. If you’re wondering, I’m a good short story fiction writer. I’m not great enough for me, yet.

I’m choosing to change. I’m choosing to fail as I learn, so I can succeed more in the future. Yup, more than a little scary. I’m not just learning early, I expect to fail. I expect to write short stories that don’t work. (This is why I write short stories. I learn about the craft much faster when I write short, not when I write long.)

I hate failing. And, I fear mediocrity even more than I hate failing. Right now, I’m not meeting my expectations. I’m being mediocre.

While I am not sure of my exact path, I know I want more from my fiction writing. That means I want, need, and will commit to this opportunity.

Here’s how I frame this oppportunity-grabbing idea for me:

  1. Choose something small. If you only have large ideas, carve a piece out of it. I don’t know how to experiment with something too large. The personal  and professional stakes are too high for me.)
  2. Consider the timebox of the experiment. Can you try something for one day, maybe up to a week? (I try to keep my experiments to less than a week. I then see a faster feedback cycle.)
  3. What’s the one thing I want feedback about in this experiment?

When I talk about making the stakes higher for my characters, I mean what’s the personal consequence to the character? Even in the story I sold, I didn’t articulate what a job loss would mean for my character. I didn’t write that part down! I had a little conversation with this character, and since she’s so spunky, she’s okay. She’d find a new job for more money. Maybe as a matchmaker.

I didn’t write that down. That would have added to the story—the fact that she’s okay with a potential job loss and that she had a plan.

Or, if she wasn’t okay with a job loss, her feelings of fear. That would have added to the story, too.

As I wrote this, I realize I’m thinking of how to increase my technical excellence in my fiction writing. (I wrote a lot about excellence in Create Your Successful Agile Project. I’m writing more about it in Modern Management Made Easy.)

Yes, I’m scared of this opportunity. And, I plan to grab this opportunity with both hands and hang on for the ride.

The question this week: When can you grab this opportunity?

One thought on “When Can You Grab This Opportunity?

  1. Pingback: What Can You Create Now? | Create An Adaptable Life

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