Revealing Ourselves: Writers Take Risks

So, I didn’t win, or even place, in Jeff’s Goins’ You Are a Writer contest.  But that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I was one of 138 writers who publicly stood up and declared our innermost identities.  Isn’t that the most important thing?  That we claim our talents and make use of them – freely, openly, and fiercely?

Okay, you ask… who did win the contest? Just what did that person have to say that made him or her stand out among all those fascinating, funny, crazy, creative entries?

Judge for yourself – watch Dustin Smith’s video and be inspired by the clear-sighted acknowledgment that a writer takes risks. (By the way, Dustin uses his own music in this video. Can we say multi-talented?)



There you have it. A writer takes risks in order to invite the rest of the world to see what he sees, to feel what she feels, to dream as they dream. To discover the mystery, the adventure, the sublime and the ridiculous that makes up our world and find the common thread that runs beneath it all.

A writer asks the hard questions and finds new ways to express them, to engender a new awareness of the world for the reader. A writer invites the reader to participate in the resolution of those questions. A writer sparks new ideas in his readers’ consciousness with his questions.

That means when you create a story or a character, you don’t take the easy way out. You build characters that grow and change because they are imperfect, just as we are, and just as the world is around us. You draw the reader into the emotions generated by the circumstances of your story to help her see what she has turned away from out of fear of the unknown. You make the reader flinch as he faces a truth he has ignored. You show the reader who he is, and how he becomes a better person through hearing or reading the stories of others. You assist him in seeing how sharing in these stories weaves another thread in the Story of Life.

Dustin’s doing all this over at his blog, Propensity For Curiosity – A Quest to Find Story in the World of Ideas.  And he’s doing it for, and about, the very real world we live in.  Be sure to visit his Start Here page, to discover the fundamental convictions that drive his focus on facing the risks and the truth.  Then follow his blog posts, where each week discovers a new subject to mull over, and where Dustin allows his readers to vote for the topic up for discussion in the next week.

Do I wish I had won the contest (and the cool prizes)?  Sure.  But I had a wonderful time creating my entry and reading every one of the 137 other entries.  A huge Thank You goes to Jeff Goins for running this contest.  Plus a full out, shout-it-from-the rooftops Congratulations to Dustin M. Smith for inspiring all of us to take the risk and write our heart’s message.  Let’s all lift our preferred caffeinated beverage in respect for a challenge well met.  Salute!

Leave a comment and tell us what risk you have taken as a writer, and how that made you feel. If you haven’t yet taken a risk, tell us how you plan to step to the edge, leap, and become a writer.

Thank you, Dustin, for allowing me to post your inspiring video here on Transformational Editor.

12 thoughts on “Revealing Ourselves: Writers Take Risks

  1. Those are very kind words, Suzanne!

    I must say, though… if you knew about the thousands of other times I’d forgotten these truths, you’d have a very different opinion of me. We all need reminding, myself more than most. So thank you for helping to remind others, too.

    The one thing I think people rarely talk about is that a willingness to fail isn’t just a necessary ingredient for ‘succeeding’… I believe that sometimes the right thing may actually feel like failure (or, at least, appear that way to others). Believing in what you’re doing is the critical part. If you truly believe in it, ‘success’ and ‘failure’ take on a whole new meaning.

    1. Dustin, I teach the power of positive thinking – yet some days I’m the biggest offender you could find. That’s the imperfect part of us. And that’s also the part of us, that allows us to reboot and start over.

      I believe you’re right on the money about our unwillingness to talk about or think about failure. We’d be sitting in the dark right now without a huge number of failures by Edison. Alexander Graham Bell didn’t succeed on his first try to invent a communication device. Do we forget that because we’re so used to enjoying the final results of those who challenged the world’s perceived limitations? Or has modern man attached such stigma to failure that we shrink from any attempt that isn’t guaranteed to be a winner?

      Keep on believing, keep on failing. One day the 100th monkey will shake hands with one of us, and we’ll all fall out of our safety nets. What an exciting world we’ll live in after that.

  2. I am terrified out of my gourd right now because I am writing a book on discovering who you were meant to be (and then being that person). I battle with two questions.

    1) who am i to tell anyone anything?
    2) what am I thinking writing this book? It is too hard, it is too much. No one will read it, who would want to?

    Is that more than one question?

    Anyways…. I know that I have to write it. Taking the step of writing it is part of me identifying myself as a writer (though I admit I chickened out on the contest).

    I will be patient with myself about the rest because I can not see around the bend. I just have to create because I can do nothing else!

    Did I just talk myself into finishing this book?

    I think I did! Well what do you know?

    1. Oh good, Dayna! I agree. You have talked yourself into writing the book you are meant to write. Who better to do that than yourself? When you’re given that mission and the gift to accomplish it, how can you question whether you have something to tell us, or to doubt that someone somewhere is waiting to hear your message? There’s no decision to be made, is there? Just sit down right now and get started. I know you will be doing it with joy – because that’s what I see in your picture on your About page. Thanks for showing us how it’s done!

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      It’s frightening to be so exposed, at times. But only in knowing the heart of each other will we come to appreciate each other. I see that in you in your blog post about adopting. You have exposed the greatness of your love and the depth of your ability to share what has been given to you. Thank you for being the one to step forward and show us how it’s done.

  3. I think the same can be true of any artist. Only by risking ourselves, our emotions, our thoughts, our being, can we ever dare to bring meaning and change into another’s life. As an artist, I create to illuminate truth. Whether telling a story on a page, or constructing a visual presentation of someone’s life, or capturing a moment on film, everything is showing one thing and concealing another. It’s far too easy to hide the parts that are ugly, unsightly or too painfully revealing. But only by revealing those part– taking the risk, as you say–does any real meaning come into my work.

    1. Hello Rachel,

      I agree, all artists, no matter the medium, take risks. The truth is often more easily visible through the objective eye of the camera, isn’t it? And in revealing someone else’s truth through that lens, you are revealing a part of yourself to all of us. Thank you!

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