Thursday, June 21, 2012

15 Habits of Great Writers: Provoke

I'm not gonna lie.  I got incredibly excited when I saw what this habit was.  I kinda thought it meant that I should contact agents and editors and say, "what?  aren't you big enough for this?  are you not smart enough to see how genius this work is?  I bet you don't have what it takes!"

But no.  This is not about provoking, meaning bullying.  Although it can include bullying, in another sense.  Hang with me.  I'll explain.

About a month ago, I shared one of my manuscripts, a WIP, with some fellow writers.  The response..."this story kinda makes light of bullying.  You might want to steer clear of this, seeing as it is such a hot topic." 

Since then, I have been present when other fellow writers have gotten criticism along the lines of:  "Dealing with the death of a parent might be too intense for kids."  "Parents might not be happy about the way they are portrayed in this story."  "The language might be too high for kids."  "Everyone steers clear of this topic because it is hard."

Countless times we are told that what we might be creating is "hot" or "too emotional". So what are we to do?

Jeff Goins writes, "Writing is an art. And all good art pushes buttons. It pokes and prods, makes people uncomfortable."

If you’re going to be a great writer, you’re going to have to shake things up. Maybe even break a few rules. Here are some ideas:
  • Tell the ugly truth.
  • Pick a fight with something that’s wrong with the world.
  • Call yourself out.
  • Make a giant confession.
  • Take a risk.
  • Write something dangerous (something you’ve never written before).

Why do we do this?

  • Because we live in a world of lies. Of false flattery and exaggeration. And we need you, the artist, to tell the truth. To help us get out of our comfort zones. After all, that’s the only place we grow.
  • Because this sets others free. To do the same. To live freely and honestly. So get in our faces; tell us the truth. And watch the ripple effect.
So go on!  Provoke today!  Be bold!


  1. So true Marcie! So long as you don't write a story about how you'll get fat if you buy bigger size clothes (sorry to everyone else, but it's an inside joke). :-)

    1. LOL! Thank you for that laugh,Julie! :) Good times. Just remember, "you have to read the entire manuscript". hee hee