Risk is something not often discussed in the world of writing. It can be risky to become a professional writer. It takes a huge amount of passion and dedication to pursue the world of publishing and the written word. But what about risks when you write? What creative risks do you take? How do you get out of your comfort zone? A common cliché holds that writers should write what they know. But why not write what you don’t know?
When I was working on Hello Out There, the interactive murder mystery dinner for Weird Weekend in 2015, there were dozens of times when I had to decide whether to take certain risks. I had been asked to theme the show after the weirder side of our desert, topics I never before considered. I had never collaborated on a written piece before, and I asked our amazingly talented C. R. Rowenson to co-write with me. When it turned out that I couldn’t assemble a cast for the original version of the show, I made the hard choice to redesign it as a two-man, fully interactive game with a hands-on crime scene diorama to explore. All of this was new to me. It was scary to go forth with these choices because the results were uncertain. But that is the nature of taking creative risks and trying new things.
And it was a fantastic experience that I would repeat in a heartbeat.
The purpose of this story? To show how risks are worth taking. None of the spectacular success of Hello Out There could have happened if C. R. Rowenson and I didn’t take the opportunities to push ourselves. C. R. had never written a mystery, a play, or an interactive experience before, and he worked like a natural at it, allowing his immense talent to shine. Both of us took the creative risks and they paid off.
There are no guarantees in life, but you will never know the extent of your reach if you don’t try. You might never know if you’re talented at playwriting if all you do is poetry. Want to write sci-fi even though you’ve never read it? Go for it. Want to work with another writer to produce a novel? Take the risk. To quote my childhood hero, Ms. Frizzle, “Take chances. Make mistakes. And get messy.” You may succeed. You may fail. But you will always learn something, and it will be rewarding.
The risks are the reward.