Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone (part 1): Why leave?

Hi, and welcome to the RADblog! I’m Rani Divine, back for the rest of the year to talk to you about whatever I choose. You’re at my mercy, friends. But don’t worry; we’ll have some fun.

For the next eight weeks, I’ll be talking to you about comfort zones, and why they’re both a good thing and a bad thing. We’ll also be looking at a few exercises I’ve come up with to help you get outside your comfort zone and to grow as the amazing writer you are. We’re all in a learning process, every step of the way.

 

Comfort Zones: Why leave?

 

Let’s get the basics out of the way first, shall we? Why are we even talking about this? What importance do comfort zones have, and why is it just as important that we get outside them, now and again? That’s what I’d like to delve into, today.

 

They’re a good thing!

I realize that this is probably not something you hear very often, that comfort zones are a good thing, and that it’s good if you have one. But it’s true. You should have a comfort zone. You should have a repertoire of writing, and a place where you’re comfortable writing. For most of us, this includes a specific genre, point of view, and even gender of character, in which we write. It also usually includes a specific kind of writing, whether that be short stories or novels, and, let’s face it, for writers… it also usually means a place where we’re alone and not bothered by other humans. We tend to be introverts. We all know it. We like our lives the way they are, and we’re not fond of change. Don’t worry; I’m right there with you.

See, having a comfort zone means that you’ve gotten good enough at writing that you know what you’re doing, in some of those areas. It means that you’ve written in this genre more than a few times, and have a good idea of how things work, there. It means you’re accustomed to this point of view, and could write in it without really trying.

It means that you (at least partially) understand yourself as a writer, and have concluded that you know what you like, what you’re good at, and what you’re comfortable doing. It means you’ve been writing long enough to know what’s comfortable for you, what your strengths are, and you’re happy there.

 

They can be a bad thing, if you let it go too far.

For nearly the exact same reason, comfort zones can also be extremely detrimental to our writing. If we’ve gotten comfortable, complacent, content in our area of writing, well then… we’re not pushing ourselves to grow beyond that, are we? And that’s the problem. Writing is a career of learning, a career of exploring and discovering new things we didn’t know could possibly exist. It’s a career that means we never really get to stop learning, because language is always changing, the world is always changing, and story is changing right along with it.

So comfort zones can be a bad thing, because they can get you stuck in a rut that you honestly don’t even want to get out of. Comfort zones can be that happy place, that little box we’ve made around ourselves, where we know we’re good, where we know what we’re doing, and where we know we’re safe. We’re good at writing first person thrillers, for example, and so we don’t want to delve into something else. We probably won’t be as good at that anyway, right?

Wrong.

Well, probably right for a while, but it should be wrong.

 

We need to know how to get outside our comfort zones, and we need to make sure we’re doing it, frequently. If we stay inside that little box, if we keep ourselves locked up in that place where we’re comfortable and we know what we’re doing and we’re happy and we’re just… not really learning anymore, then we’ve stagnated. We’ve stopped being writers. We’ve stopped growing. And that’s not okay.

As writers, we need to grow. We need to challenge ourselves. We need to better ourselves and our craft, from one story to the next. Because if nothing changes, if everything stays the same from book to book, you’ll get bored, your readers will get bored, and there just won’t be a point anymore.

So, for the next few weeks, I’m here to help. I’ll be telling you a few of my favorite ways to get outside my comfort zone, so you can join me in the adventure.

What do you say?

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.