I wrote yesterday that I think it’s worthwhile to explore difficult subjects as a writer. It made me think of a wonderful, inspiring post by Donald Maass, which reminds us to not just write compulsively, but to consciously risk ourselves in writing.
Here is his challenge:
The challenge: What is it that you—yes, you—least want to accept, refuse to feel, fear is true, find unbearable, feel angriest about, or avoid at any cost? What do you see around you that makes you sick? What in yourself makes you terrified?
Go further: What’s the truth that underlies all things? What principle guides human behavior? What’s the greatest insight you’ve even had about yourself? Or even just this: What do you know about anything that nobody else does?
Give any of the above to your protagonist and share the rest around with your other characters. Hold nothing back. Save nothing for future projects. To stir your readers you must first unsettle yourself—a lot.