Last summer I attended a harp workshop. In addition to listening to, and playing lovely harp music, the workshop took place in the middle of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. While I listened to and played all kinds of Celtic music, anywhere I looked, was a mountain to watch, paint, photograph or just enjoy.
One exercise I learned in the harp group involved playing on the white strings only. You see, on a harp there are red strings, blue ones and the white. I discovered this: if everyone in the room plays on the white strings only, no matter what they played, every tune harmonized with the other. Wow. How fun is that?
Of course, after a while, you realize this is not something you want to do all the time. Why? Because there are no longer any surprises. Where are the contrast, unexpected notes, and conflict?
I’m guilty of doing that in my writing. Sticking only to the known and not ever branching out to the unknown with your writing is like playing on the white strings. It’s fun for a while, but pretty soon you may feel as if you are missing something. It’s time to try the colored strings, even if it is intimidating, and you’re afraid of failure.
If you write romances, branch out to mysteries. If you write nonfiction, why not write a short story? Poets, creative nonfiction might be the perfect genre for you. Never get stuck in a rut, try the new scary thing. What if you fail? You learn and stretch and go on to other things.
Come on, get off those white strings, and take a risk.