On Writing: Stretch Yourself


The awesome thing about writing is that it probes us authors to explore in more ways than one. Not only does writing encourage us to seek out and discover uncharted territories in our imaginations and throughout the world, but we are beckoned to explore the vastly wide expanse of the available genres themselves.

I told Sarabeth just last night while doing research for a book I’ve been too afraid to write for years, “I’ve discovered a new love.”

She glared at me for a moment then said, “You shouldn’t say things like that to your wife.” (I didn’t realize that Jennifer Lopez was presenting a Golden Globe on the TV wearing a dress with a V-cut as wide as the Grand Canyon.)

I said, “No, not that. Biography-ing. I know it’s not a ward, but I feel like I’ve found a new niche.”

I thought I’ve already been stretching myself out of my comfort zone of writing mainstream fiction, by working on not just a teen book, but a young readers historical novel. But due to a long-festering force of inspiration, I began a third project recently – a biography about a man you admire but don’t yet know by name (I’ll be dropping hints on my brand new author’s page on Facebook).

Crazy? Sure. But people don’t achieve their dreams by not being crazy. What’s so crazy about flopping down in front of the TV to watch another episode of Family Guy and then sleeping in until 9:00 the next day? That sort of doldrum behavior is to be expected. Do the unexpected.

You’re not going to discover new loves without being crazy enough to get out of your element and explore what the world has to offer.

They say to write what you know, but I disagree with that. I say write enough about what you don’t know, and the research will make you an expert.


About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

23 Responses to On Writing: Stretch Yourself

  1. oddy89 says:

    Wow really made me think about how writing makes you go out and learn new things. I am newbie when it comes to blogging or even writing for that matter so I can definitely relate.

  2. workmomad says:

    I have a biography I want to write too, but I am not sure how to even get started, especially since the largest trove of my person’s papers are located across the country from me. How are you starting?

  3. Rohit Nair says:

    Such an inspiring piece! So pumped up right now 🙂

  4. Sandymae says:

    Yes, my grown children have been trying to get me to write my own biography as they think I have an interesting story, and that is just based on “what they know”. 🙂 I will, one day, I know I will as those stories need to be told. I recently did a Grandparents book for one of our grandchildren on both mine and my husband’s life, and it is surprising how much “digging” I had to do for something like that. We would both love to know more about our ancestry. I recently finished reviewing/editing a biography of a well-known Caribbean woman which was written by a friend of mine and I found it delightful reading, and our daughter also did a biography for her Grandmother-in-law which was an amazing gift for their family members. Writers need to write and stories need to be told. Go for it!

  5. michaelson33 says:

    Inspirational and well said. 🙂

  6. I also agree with you. If we stick to our status quo, the world will never change. Likewise, if we write the same story because that is what we only know, then we cannot discover the new things life can offer us. What the world needs (and the world of literature too) is a new perspective.

    What you’ve written is what I needed right now. Inspirational and well said 🙂

  7. Nathan Evans says:

    I agree that you definitely need to push yourself. When I write within my comfort zone, it can all be very simple. When I try to extend myself, I get to research new topics and start asking questions I wouldn’t have considered before. You definitely need to keep challenging yourself to be a writer!

  8. Bernard-Joseph says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. There is sometime exhilarating about standing at the edge of the abyss, about looking into the darkness.

  9. jvisi1001 says:

    Bingo. I’ve been dabbling in Non-fiction for about 5 years now. When friends suggested reads like “The Shack,” or other big fiction sellers, I’d tell them that I wasn’t a big fiction fan at all. I never read fiction. I’m a Ravi Zacharias and C.S. Lewis non-fiction nutjob! However, back in September I was prompted to begin writing a fiction book influenced by a childhood relationship between me, my brother, and the kid who would eventually become our best friend. I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MUCH I LOVE WRITING FICTION!!!! It’s like my mind has opened up into a different dimension. STEP OUTSIDE YOUR BOX EVERYONE!! You just might find your calling is in THE OTHER BOX!

  10. nelyndamoring says:

    Hi! I hope you can help me become a good and effective writer… 😦

  11. You know, I still have a bunch of notebooks I wrote constantly in when I was a young teen, and then I wasn’t afraid to write about things I knew nothing about. Then something happened on the way to my twenties. I lost that fearless confidence and became of the mind that I knew too little about anything for anything I wrote to matter.

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