Wednesday, April 7, 2021

IWSG: Calculated Risks

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

April 7 question - Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

The awesome co-hosts for the April 7 posting of the IWSG are PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton! Be sure to check out what they have to say, and visit other writers in the blog hop!

So, am I a risk-taker in my writing? Well…kind of. 

I'm trying to build a writing career, one that will eventually financially support me. So, when I make choices about what to write next and where to focus my energy in this moment, I'm considering marketability and cross-pollination with my other published work as one of the factors. So, sometimes that means putting down one project that doesn't have a publisher waiting on it, so I can work on one that does--selecting what to work on when based on slightly more mercenary criteria rather than merely following my artistic whims. 

But I don't let that make me play it completely safe. While I don't seek out controversy for its own sake, I don't pull back from it if it arises naturally in my work. My novels address some pretty serious issues: ageism, sexism, misogyny, violence, trust. I don't pull my metaphorical punches any more than my heroines pull their physical ones. If the story needs to take on something potentially controversial, then it will. 

image source

On the other hand, I also LOVE trying new things as a writer. So, there's a balance to be struck between moving forward where I've had success and in experimentation and growth. I use short fiction for this. So, while I'm continuing to write The Menopausal Superhero series, I also slip in a little time to write in my first-love genre of horror stories and to try on other sub-genres of speculative fiction. 

It lets me try out different approaches, narrative styles, and forms without the time commitment required by a novel. 

My favorite way to challenge myself is to write for anthologies. When I hear about a themed call that captures my imagination, I jump in. Even better if it's something I've never written before, like that time I wrote a vampire story for Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire, even though I'd never written a vampire story before, just because I LOVED the premise of the anthology so very much and wanted to be a part of it. 

It's always a risk to try writing something new, but I'd argue it's a risk to never try writing anything new, too--stagnation is real, and can cost your passion as well as your opportunity to build a career. 

So, I'm a planned risk-taker, I guess, willing to try something new, but only when the time is right. How about you, fellow creatives? How do you balance risk in your creative life? 


  1. It sounds like you've got a balanced approach to risk taking. I love how you describe it as being a planned risk-taker.

  2. Hi again Samantha, I hope you're well? I've been enjoying trying new things too of late, and I've found that writing styles that are new to me, like short stories and travel literature, far more enjoyable than I expected.
    BTW I finished reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent...that closing scene! So moving!

    1. That book did pack a wallop of an ending. I still think about it months after I read it.

  3. "I don't pull my metaphorical punches any more than my heroines pull their physical ones." I love that. My kind of heroines. ;)

  4. I like the idea of a "planned" risk-taker. Thanks!

  5. Agreed. Readers can tell when it's been forced.

  6. I like your approach and follow something similar. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  7. Very true that when writing for deadline, etc there is a lot less room for risk. I was thinking that too when I saw the question. That was a really good, honest answer.
    Anne from

  8. You do a way better job risk-taking when it comes to anthology calls than I do! Myself, I feel I have to keep passing up those calls unless I already have a story written that fits or at least comes close to fitting the theme of the anthology. However, that's very limiting of the chances to publish so I think I'm going to try to take a little more risk in that realm and write stories to submit to anthologies as soon as the submission call is announced. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I hope it works for you! Even if you don't land a spot in the anthology you write a new story for, you'll still have a new story to submit elsewhere and will have stretched your writing chops.