Low-stakes writing

Squirmy Scarlet the Wiener Dog

A Famous Writer once chided me about blogging a few years back. She told me that her Extremely Famous Writer husband and she decided to stop blogging, so that they could save their words for their novels (said Famous Writer now tweets and facebooks like no tomorrow, though, so go figure). Blogs, she said, were a waste of words. Hrm.

I’m not stopping the blogging (and private journal writing), because it affords me a “low-stakes” place to communicate with the world via writing. As a teacher, I’ve learned that it’s important to provide my students with an opportunity for “low-stakes” writing assignments; a venue for writing that might provide challenge but is worth very few points, a venue for writing that gives my students permission to take chances and risks with their writing without being paralyzed with pressure or fear of consequences for said risks. Or just to get their ideas down on paper as they come, as is the case with my blog.

I realize that I’ve made many things in my life unnecessarily “high-stakes”; thus, my joy in writing and engaging has been diminished. Time to remedy that. Time to explore, without fear of consequence, and time to explore without wondering if it’s “the right thing” or “perfect” the first time around. While revision wills me to confront my errors and shortcomings (of which there are many–so many, that I wilt in front of my own writing these days), and is very uncomfortable at times, it’s still a low-stakes game, not the high-stakes I’d hyped it up to be.

I can make mistakes. It’s a rough draft. And after this set of revisions, it will still be a rough draft. And after another set of revisions, it will again still be a rough draft. It’s low-stakes. Time to explore.


Filed under Favorites, Novel, Writing

5 responses to “Low-stakes writing

  1. I’m with you on this. I like the blog. It’s how I met you, for example. And Wah-Ming. Nova, Sandi Shelton, and a bunch of other people I really like. That wasn’t going to happen in my off screen life.

    As for stakes, writing in a blog is incredibly freeing. I make it a point to take the most pedestrian parts of my life and write about them in a way that amuses and interests me. It’s also a good place to record what’s happening with writing and reading.

    I’ve got plenty of words left over for fiction.


  2. I love this post. It feels as if you took a deep breath and then shared a smile with us.
    And I’m right there with you sister.

  3. Nate

    I took a flash workshop once and its low stakes, both as a class and as a relatively small time commitment per piece, were a revelation to me. If I have a small idea I always jot it down and develop it a little if I can –just to see where it goes.

    Like bloglily said, there are some mundane things that we all have an angle on and exploring those angles can help us find ways to make our writing better. Really if you think about it developing those skills are a huge part of the job and probably a big part of why we are drawn toward writing to begin with. So keep going. Hell, I love your blog! I’m here almost every day w/ baited breath.

  4. Seems like authors/writers are 50/50 on the blog or not to blog thing. Jim Scalzi, for instance, blogs constantly and is pretty successful in the scifi genre. I remember when he was an obnoxious troll on a blog mailing list pre-2000. Blogging seems like a good way to get quicker feedback rather than waiting until one’s 400-page novel is on the shelves. I know it’s made me more interested in writing even if it’s not the most efficient approach.

    • @bloglily for having met you and all my other wonderful friends (several of whom you have mentioned!) i find my blog precious.

      @arachnomaria: *smile*

      @Nate: See? You’re one of the positive sources of energy out there that keep me writing on my worst writing/writer days. Who wants to hear from me? Maybe only one, but that’s still someone.

      @scott: i ❤ your blog and your writing. keep writing, please.

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