Monday, January 30, 2017

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Image result for free image of a comfortable person
Doesn't this man look comfortable? He's sitting in his favorite armchair, reading his paper and smoking his pipe. He's safe and relaxed and feeling good. Nothing is going to shake him out of this contentment as long as he stays right where he is.

If he folds the paper, empties his pipe and leaves the chair, life could become more difficult, even complicated. Maybe he should just stay in the chair so nothing will upset his world. We all know that would not be good for him or for his family. It wouldn't let him move forth in his career, friendships, family life or his place in the community. Nope--he'd better leave that wonderful spot and move on. The good thing is that he can always come back to his happy place.

What about you, the writer? Have you found a comfortable spot? Did you figure out that writing short stories was your strong point? Or perhaps poetry is where you feel the happiest. Some of you like writing for kids and nothing more. You feel good; you've had success in that field so why try something different?

We need to try another kind of writing once in awhile. Move out of that safe place and venture into the dark world of the unknown. You may have strength in more than one type of writing but you'll never know if you don't try.

I've noticed that Flash Fiction becomes a bigger and bigger field. I suppose it is partly because, in our hurried world, we can read a whole story in a very short time. Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at Flash, using what I'd written some time ago as the opening to a short story. Originally, I'd planned on the story being well over 1000 words. So, how in the world was I going to do this? I read the three  paragraphs I'd written earlier, started using my imagination and came up with paragraph four to finish the story. It had a grand total of 272 words. Yes, it leaves the reader with a few questions but it also told a complete story.

Wondering if it had any merit, I subbed it to my online writing group. So far, I have had only one critique but it was very encouraging. Wow! Maybe I can write Flash Fiction. That's what I thought after reading through the crit twice. Was my story perfect? No, for the critique had a couple of suggestions which is exactly what I was looking for. Maybe it will be published someday, or perhaps not, but I stepped out of my comfort zone. I tried to write something entirely different from what I usually write.

Guess what? It felt good. 

How about trying a completely different kind of writing than you usually produce? I'm not saying you'll be totally successful but it's beneficial to you as a writer to try something new. If the first thing you write bombs, try another area until you find a place that you like, a place you can add to your usual writing comfort zone. Or, if that first effort is pathetic, keep going in the same vein until you come up with a piece that gives you some satisfaction. Nothing horrible will happen if you try something new and it is not a wham-bang success. You have little to lose and lots to gain.  If it doesn't work, you can always come back to your comfort zone.

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