Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Writing Challenge

I’m not a fan of poetry. Never have been and I feel most certain I never will be. Too often I struggle to understand it, as in I haven’t a clue what it’s about. Anyway, in a moment of either weakness or great wisdom—I’m not sure which—I decided to write notes to my absentee high school Sunday School students in the form of a poem.

Good practice, I asserted. Way to stretch and hopefully strengthen my writing muscles. Mm hmm.

The weekly task proved to be a chore that I didn’t have the time or inclination to endure as my poetry-composing skills required a chunk of time for even a semi-passing result.

So, I shelved the weekly poetry challenge, pulling out the weak poetry-writing skills only for a special occasion here or there. I composed a poem when our pastoral family left, to commemorate our time spent journeying together. I loved the end result, feeling that it really captured the occasion. If I could find it, I’d share it with you, but too many computers have come and gone since I crafted the sentimental verse. I fear it’s gone forever.

Years later I came upon a job opportunity writing web content for businesses. While I had less than zero interest in such a proposition, it sounded perfect for my friend Rhonda. She agreed, applied, and received a job offer which she quickly accepted. While I was happy for Rhonda, I couldn’t help but audibly groan at the type of writing the position called for. I barely silenced the blechs, yucks, and ewws crawling up my throat when she offered me some assignments. I managed a sufficiently polite, “No thank you.”

Jump forward a year. My part-time job had become a bit more part-time than in the past, making money a little tighter than usual. Gritting my teeth just a bit, I asked Rhonda if she by chance needed another writer. Seems the company had just taken on a new client. “You may have them if you want,” she announced.

I’m pretty sure want did not describe my mental or emotional state at the time, still, I accepted. Rhonda passed along a detailed (ahem . . . boring) set of instructions for writing four to five blog posts per month. I sloughed my way through the first couple of months, racking up far too much time staring woefully at the computer screen. But I managed to produce presentable content that the client approved. Soon one client became two. And then without any warning, my shrinking part-time job ceased.

By now I knew I could produce business-related short articles and e-newsletters. It still wasn’t the type of writing I yearned to immerse myself in, but it was writing. And the success I’d achieved produced a satisfying sense of accomplishment. I took on the challenge of more clients, more complex subject matters, and dug into topics I never dreamed of researching let alone writing about. My writing skills expanded and deepened, the “muscles” bulked up, and my confidence grew.

This month marks five years of “business writing” with over 600 hundred completed assignments under my belt. Some days I actually like what I’m writing about. I’ve learned so much through the required research, many things that have proven helpful to my journey as an indie author. I still send up a cheer each month as I send off the last assignment, but I spend far less time dreading the work and almost no time staring at a blank screen.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a poem. But if asked to do so tomorrow, I’d deem the task an adventure and tackle the assignment without one yuck.

Between now and Christmas, I challenge you to write something out of your comfort zone. Something as different from your normal word content as possible. Serious or silly, whimsical, complex, or poetic, choose a genre or format that will challenge your writing skills. An be sure to save it in multiple places, for future reference, as you never know when it will come in handy as either inspiration or a teachable moment.

Beth connects with the YA crowd via substitute teaching and through her “back booth” office at the local fast food joint, and by reading YA fiction.

She's a "cheerleader" for saving sex for marriage and for "renewed waiting" because it's never too late to make wiser choices. She writes and speaks about her experiences as a "foundling" who located her birth parents and is making up for lost time with her biological family. Find her at BethSteury.com and on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure how I missed this last week--oh, yes, I do--I had a toddler staying with me for several days! With Nanowrimo coming up, I will need to postpone your challenge until December. Maybe I'll create my own Christmas card texts...