“Musicians practice to reduce the risk of catastrophe, but to play with complete safety is an insult to their art.” Ben Fountain.
A lot of what I read is very safe. And predictability (a synonym for safety) may be due to trying to avoid catastrophe. Which is probably a bad review, an out-and-out rejection, or not even finishing the novel, story, or poem.
If I think about this quote, though, I remember passages in my books (passages I loved even if no one else did) that shook free of safety. I wrote these when they were least expected. Probably when the ego was busy looking at itself in the mirror and the other guards were smoking and talking about Saturday night.
I suspect recklessness is better tolerated in poetry where not much is at stake and the idiosyncratic can be rewarded by publication in an obscure journal. (There’s a catastrophe of a different magnitude. )
I very much like the idea of not insulting one’s art by playing it safe. It’s a bit abstract, but still a useful tool to wield when someone is floundering. Are you stuck? Unhappy with your work? Ask if timidity might not be the problem.
Then dress up in something dangerous and go back to work.