With our writing, as in life, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. We write the same things, the same plot ideas, use the same words, recreate the same type of characters or at least character weaknesses – because it’s easier, more comfortable, feels safer.

But if we do that, then we’re not growing. We’re not helping ourselves in any way. Our writing will never improve, never grow, never change – never become ‘beautiful words’ if we continue to keep ourselves stagnant.

“But it’s hard” you say. Yep, sure is. When we force ourselves out of our comfort zones, that’s when we grow. When we accept that maybe, just maybe, that rejection letter did have something to say, or when our betas try to show us where we are getting stuck or use certain phrases over and over … it might be worth listening to.

If we are want to be the absolute best writer we can be, then we should be growing and sharpening our skills. Don’t get trapped into thinking that “good enough” is going to be enough. Talk with your critique partners (or find one) that will help you. Take those writing courses, sign up for those workshops, read all those writer/agent blogs (but don’t spend hours reading them, if you aren’t careful, you’ll find yourself reading blogs rather than writing), the magazines and yes, try to read between the lines of some of those rejection letters (if you can). If we stop learning, we stop growing. When we stop growing, we stop writing. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m not writing, I’m not in my happy place. And if I’m not in my happy place, no one else is either!

What are you doing to stretch yourself? What are you doing to improve your skills?