Writing is a lot like birding.
It’s great to be in a critique group, you can learn so much. But most writing you have to do on your own. And you can learn so much birding with others. But at some point, you have to learn to identify the birds on your own.
Sometimes you go in search of a story, seeking, pushing, striving. You’re plotting it out, asking what if questions, scratching out ideas, rewriting. And sometimes, you wake up from a nap and the story is sitting right there, ready and complete from start to finish, in your mind.
Most days I love to sit and bird in my backyard. I’m lucky. I have a lot of oak trees and lots of warblers and migrators pass through here spring and fall. I know the rhythms of my backyard birds very well. It’s reassuring, easy. Satisfying. Safe.
But other times I need to get away from safe. I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and bird somewhere new. I need to walk, see new perspectives, hear new songs. I need to stretch my muscles and my mind and refresh my view of the world.
Birding is a lot like writing. Some days, you need to write what you know and love. Somedays, you need to learn more, learn something new, and broaden the circle of what you know and love so you can write even more.