Changing Things Up

I tried out a new coffee shop on Monday. In a different part of town. Far enough away I had to drive instead of ride my bike. I love writing in coffee shops, and wanted this new place to be worth the disruption in my normal routine. So I printed off the latest draft of a WIP and crossed my fingers.

You never know what you’ll get when you try out something new. Luckily, I found comfy chairs, first-rate java, and a pleasant space conducive to writing. And best of all, I got some work done.

Then I saw someone who I would never see at my usual coffee joint. A bodybuilder with a shaved head, wearing a red flannel shirt and gray spandex shorts (that left nothing to the imagination), with the phrase “What doesn’t kill you / Makes you stronger” tattooed down each brawny forearm.

A big difference from the suited yuppies, bored hipsters, and yoga moms at my regular spot. (Side note: I am none of these).

This man, so different from me and the characters I tend to write about, was a good reminder that we all need to change things up every now and then.

When I write, I sometimes find myself sticking to what I’m comfortable with. The same characters in different stories, the same stable of gestures and physical reactions. The same patterns of storytelling.

And while that’s ok, especially when drafting, sometimes you need to change things up, particularly as you revise to make your story the best it can be.

Sometimes it’s a simple as writing in a new locale. Or tackling a writing prompt to push yourself to write about something new or someone different from yourself. Think of that bodybuilder, tight shorts and all. What would he make of your story? What would he do if he was in your story?

I’m not saying every story needs some big man hopped up on ‘roids to pack a punch. Or that you need to give your MC a tat just because. But I do think it’s important you step outside yourself and analyze your work through someone else’s eyes. To see if you have pushed your story and your characters beyond the realm of your own experience and into that of a general audience.

You might just find what’s missing.

How do you change things up with your writing routine? How do you push your craft forward?
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3 thoughts on “Changing Things Up

  1. Well, I read books in all different genres. And in my writing, I work on more than one thing that are different from each other. I like to write at home, but I change it up by writing in different rooms. WILD! Lol.

  2. I fell off my routine since my wife and I moved a few months ago. It took a while to realize the problem was where my workspace had ended up in the new apartment. I got a macbook last week so I could work elsewhere. Being able to sit down and write just about anywhere is making a big difference.

    The bodybuilder in this post was hilarious. I hope you get some ideas out of that.

  3. I really like this post!! I've always tried vastly new things in my life and performing career, why wouldn't I spread that to my fiction writing? Nice reminder!

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