Friday, June 18, 2010

Stretching Ourselves

Alphonse Charles Masson--1814-1898--Portrait of Alfred Cadart--Etching, 1874 I’ve always thought that if we don’t stretch ourselves, we don’t grow.

But stretching doesn’t always feel good. And sometimes we end up pulling things.

My friend asked if I wanted to go with her to a Zumba exercise class at the YMCA. I was, I’ll admit it, completely horrified. “No, I think I’m good. But thanks.” We continued our conversation and she said again, “Sure you don’t want to go to Zumba with me?” “No thanks.” I changed the subject.

Finally, she brought it up again. “I really think you’d enjoy it, Elizabeth. Why don’t we give that class a try tomorrow?” “Please don’t make me!” I said. Zumba combines all the things I don’t like—large groups of people, socializing, loud music, and an attempt at coordination—into one activity.

But I felt bad about turning down the opportunity. So when my son asked if I’d work out with him at the Y on Thursday, I agreed to do it (it wasn’t a Zumba class.) I walked on the treadmill, but then I hesitantly tried the weight machines. As of right now? I’m sore. But I did receive extra energy from the experience. And I felt proud that I’d given it a go.

Stretching as a writer is good, too. I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a lot of time to try something new. But I do write articles for a local parenting magazine from time to time, just to write something different.

Ways to Stretch as a Writer: Try reading a different genre. Try writing a different genre. Experiment with short stories or drabbles. Try writing more description. Try writing less description. Write a character that’s completely different from any character you’ve written before. Try writing from a different POV than you usually use. Try writing humor. Or try writing seriously. Write a magazine article. Enter a contest (watch those entry fees, though.) Or continue writing your usual genre or style, but make it better—don’t be complacent.

What are you doing to stretch yourself? ********************* I got some author copies of Delicious and Suspicious yesterday! My July 6th release is just weeks away. Click here for my book release contest. Entering is easy...and you might win a $25 bookstore gift card, a signed copy of "Delicious and Suspicious," and a "Delicious and Suspicious" tote bag. :)