Sometimes your best work is to stop working for a while. Kick your shoes off and pull your nose back from the grindstone. Take a break, any kind of break. Take a coffee break, a stretch break, break bread or break out in song. Read on for inspiration to break free and put some spring in your writing.
Break New Ground
Break new ground for yourself by writing about something different or writing differently about something familiar. Pick an intriguing topic you know little about. Follow your interest, research it, and pitch an article. You may find yourself in an unexpected market and decide to spend some time there. Or write within your realm but take a different position. Find a new angle. Argue the extreme. You will grow as a writer and a thinker whether or not you publish the piece.
Break new ground for your reader. Take me to a place within myself that I didn't know existed. Entice me to care about something I care nothing about. Leave me with such a compelling argument for a minority position that I'm no longer convinced of the majority. Confront me with my own prejudice. Startle me. Give me writing so good about something so bad that I can't stand to read it, but neither can I stop. I once read an article about the finer points of interrogation. I was horrified by the grisly details and riveted by the quality of the writing. It was beautiful writing about pure ugliness. That author broke new ground.
Break with Tradition
Readers follow writers for the same reason people eat at McDonald's - they like what they get and they know what to expect. That consistency, that acquaintance, is essential for developing a marketable platform and growing your personal brand. However, even the most fervent french fry hound (that would be me) has a finite capacity for a good thing - even a thing as good as hot, crispy golden fries - and will, at some point, want something else.
Tempt your readers with novelty. Give them you, but with uncharacteristic humor or sarcasm or solemnity. The best way to change your voice without losing who you are is to include your readers. Confide in them. Let them know up front that "Between you and me, I'm tired of being sensible. I'm about to give you something completely unexpected, but I think you can handle it. I trust you to understand."
Break off a Relationship
Have the guts and good sense to walk away from a bad relationship. If you value your Self and your craft don't spend time with people who don't. I've learned not to stay with clients who don't pay or who won't sign a contract, those who ignore my requests (for reference material, draft approval, or interviewee contact information), and those who insist that the only way they can work with a writer is for their internal team to call me every other day to discuss my progress on the project, which usually means I listen for an hour as they change direction on every one of the major details we achieved consensus on two days prior. Yes, I need to put food on the table, but I also need to be sane enough to prepare it. Toxic relationships simply cost too much.
Break the Rules
Grammar. Usage. Slang. As George Orwell said, "A writer can do very little with words in their primary meanings. He gets his effect if at all by using words in a tricky roundabout way."
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Copyright © 2009 by Sally Bacchetta. All rights reserved.