Thursday, December 1, 2011

comfort zones

Crows by Vlado, at

Sometimes, as a writer, you have to step out of your comfort zones.

Sometimes this is to do with what you're writing. Today, I wrote a 1000-word article for a magazine which actually involved real facts and truthful quotations. And I am here to tell you, I have a renewed respect for journalists. Writing articles is so, so much harder than making stuff up. For one thing, unlike fiction which just comes out of your head, you can get real facts wrong. For another, unlike fiction which is designed to be interesting, real facts have the potential to be a little bit boring and you have to figure out how to present them in an interesting way. Also, in an article you need a beginning and a middle and an end, but a different kind of a beginning, middle and end than in a story.

I was pulling my hair out by the end of it.

I've written a few short stories recently, too. I never thought I could really write a short story, but then I went to a workshop led by Sue Moorcroft, who writes and sells a ton of short stories, and she inspired me. But a short story is so...short. So much depends on every word. And whilst this is wonderful for a nitpicky writer like me, it's also sort of scary.

Sometimes you have to step out of the comfort zones of your writing routines. Usually, I write whilst flying by the seat of my pants, with little idea of where the story is going to turn out. But for this next novel, I'm planning it out first by writing a coherent, and hopefully interesting, synopsis. I wrote this synopsis this week (before I wrote the article...hmm, maybe that's why I have an extreme craving for wine and chocolate). It's an interesting experience, and I think it will actually help my composition process. But...

Yup. Scary as hell.

Sometimes you have to step out of the kind of books you write, into something different. Sometimes you have to make the leap from unpublished to published author. Sometimes you have to put something aside and start something new. Sometimes you need to step out into thin air, with only a hope that you'll land somewhere good to be.

Writing is never safe. To do it, you either have to be brave, stupid, insane, or perhaps a little bit of all three.

Here's to every brave, stupid, insane one of us.


  1. Sounds incredibly scary! Was thinking about this very thing last night... came to realisation that sometimes I avoid writing because if I finish it then it has to go out and get judged. Must learn to shoot down those crows.


  2. EXACTLY. It's so much easier and safer not to finish. But without the risk, there's no reward.

    I've got three submissions of various non-comfort-zone things out there right now. The crows are circling. But we need to get stuff out there!

  3. You're absolutely right! I've been dragging my feet about sending something off too, but if I don't, it will never get anywhere. Scary - absolutely! But I guess you just have to take a deep breath and go for it.