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Ask this simple question to get a new perspective on your writing

Last week, I had two lessons about the benefits of looking at things in a different way.

First, we had a tremendous (for us) snow storm here in the Pacific Northwest. Normally, we get a dusting of snow once or twice a year which is usually gone within a day. Last week, we had six inches and it lasted three days. Since we’re surrounded by hills, we were snowed in. The first day was fun but by the third day, the snow was interfering with our business. Since Fed Ex couldn’t get to our home, we walked our boxes to the drop-off location about a mile away.  No big deal. We like to walk in the snow.

As we headed toward the road we normally take to Fed Ex, my husband said, “What if we went up this side street? The hill isn’t as steep and it may be shorter.” So we tried a different route and along the way we met a new neighbor out shoveling his sidewalk.

We stopped and chatted with him and he kindly let me take his picture. (I offered to help shovel the snow but he said he was having too much fun). If we hadn’t taken this route, if my husband hadn’t asked “What if,” we’d never have met this charming gentleman.

A few days later, I had the opportunity to ask another “What if” question. I was working on my first poetry manuscript and trying to edit a poem that just wasn’t working. On the verge of deleting the poem forever, I remembered that I’d written another poem years earlier about the same subject. That poem was a dud, too. But, out of curiosity, I printed both poems to compare them. Then I asked, “What if I combined these two poems?” Both poems had some good elements but they didn’t work alone. So I cut and pasted and edited the two poems into one. This new poem turned out so well that it’s now one of my favorites.

I received two beautiful gifts this week all because I asked the question “What if?”

Exercise: Get in the habit of asking “What if?” At least once a day, ask yourself this question. Develop the habit of curiosity. It will serve you well as a writer.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I couldn’t agree more! The what if question is a must in any writers tool kit. I like the idea of combining two poems (I might just try that).

    January 24, 2012

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