Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writing Outside the Comfort Zone

I've been thinking recently about my comfort levels when writing certain material.  A lot of it comes from giving and receiving critiques on both my work and others' work.  Critiques aren't always easy on either end of things, and most of the time a good critique will take you out of your comfort zone.

Am I too harsh?  Am I not blunt enough?  Trying to find the happy medium giving a critique is as hard as receiving critiques that expose weaknesses and faults in your own work.  Neither are too fun on the surface, but I think when you really start to dig and look into them, they can be very constructive.  After all, I want to grow as a writer, not stagnate, being placated by people who pat me on the head and tell me what a good job I'm doing.

But the same thing might apply to writing.  Writing subject matter that makes you feel uncomfortable makes you focus more on the writing.  At least I think so.  It forces you to try and better your writing.  So does writing when you just can't seem to get things done and you're stuck with writer's block.  So can writing a particular style you aren't as comfortable with.  All of these things are opportunities to grow and learn as an author, and I think that's very important.

It may also be why we don't care as much for some authors' later works, or at least we don't find them as riveting as their earlier material.  Maybe that's because they just didn't have to work as hard and kind of let up on the gas.  Maybe one's comfort zone has a lot to do with effort.  It seems to, at least as far as I see it.  After all, that holds true with other things in life.  You get comfortable, you get careless, sloppy.  You don't pay as much attention because you don't need to.

But maybe you should.  Maybe you should try to find that thing that takes you back out of your comfort zone and puts you square in the middle of something you'd rather not write about.  It's probably not a cure-all for bad writing, but I think it just might help.


  1. I've always enjoyed the challenge of writing outside my comfort zone. It's good to push yourself hard. That's now everybody gets better at everything -- really pushing. And although it can be unpleasant to know you're not doing so well, once you finally get the hang of it and you feel that you've begun to make progress with a new skill or a new aspect of your skills, there is nothing that feels better! :)

  2. I didn't really get into it in that post, but probably the most satisfaction I've found from writing comes from work I've actually taken pause over, startled at how amazingly awful it made me feel.

    Horror writing that is. I should clarify the above paragraph. Never have I felt more satisfied with something I've written than when I read over something particularly oogy and been completely creeped out over it. I mean, it got to me, and I wrote the damn thing. Perverse satisfaction, I believe it's called.