I've been talking a lot about community, workshopping, and the value of not writing alone. I know that. And it's because it's a big deal.
Very soon, here, I'm going to be a guest writer on The Roundtable Podcast. We already recorded my story workshop, which was awesome, and I learned once again why it's so important to get other people to look at my stories. I had a very generic story with borderline cliche tropes and plot lines and characters and on and on and on. Then a published writer, a podcaster with years of editing, workshopping, and writing experience, and my two amazing BtT cohosts all dug into my outline and told me how to make it a good/better book.
I'm more excited about this story than I was last week when I started talking about it. I like the direction it's going, especially because it's very different from the stories I've created in the past. It's going to be dark. Not very dark, but still dark. And the characters are going to have a different mindset than the typical characters I write. They're going to (hopefully) subvert the expectations of readers, undermine what most people expect from protagonists and antagonists, and I'm going to workshop it with my critique group to make sure it doesn't come across as a cliched attempt at throwing in an O. Henry Twist.
This is a big undertaking for me, and another reason why it's so vital to workshop: I'm taking risks with my writing. Something I wouldn't have even known to do without help from the community. I'd gotten stagnant. I fell into a pattern, and as hard as I tried to put together new ideas, I just couldn't get my brain to work differently than it was used to. Not that I was avoiding change, I just didn't know how to push myself in a way that made me make real change (as opposed to staying in my comfort zone while trying something "new" that still fit inside my general area of expertise/experience).
I'm getting things done. I'm moving forward. And I'm still not ready to give up on my writing!