Friday, October 07, 2011

Fill the Well Friday: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Michelle Styles explains how stepping out of your Comfort Zone can really recharge your batteries.

One thing that tends to hold back writers is fear of change. Most people if they were honest hate change. It is comfortable to stay as we are. It is often easier to give an excuse as to why you can't change. Why you haven't written those pages or why you can't possibly do things differently. Or even why you can't work on a single title project. Or submit something. There are always excuses and sometimes they seem like excellent reasons.
However, sometimes those excuses stifle you and smother your creativity. The comfort zone feels safe but it can also be a prison. You know you are not going to fail but the well is starting to run dry and that in itself can lead to failure. The things that helped are now keeping you penned in.
To step out of a comfort zone, you have to know where you want to head. Revisit your goals.
What fear is stopping you reaching your goals? And if there another way around that road block?Has something/some ritual become a crutch? Has some aspect become stale or are you merely afraid of what stepping out of your comfort zone would be like?
I am going to use my struggle with my weight as an example. For years, I have been trying to lose weight but not really succeeding. Some would come off but then I'd plateau or I'd make excuses and the regime stopped being a habit and started to be a chore. I slid back as mostly I was reasonably comfortable with me. Then at the end of August I was on my hands and knees and knew the moment had come. I had to get out of my comfort zone. I had to pursue my dream of becoming fit, rather subsiding into flab.  And I had to do it by doing the one thing I feared -- Dance Cardio. Cue The Tracy Anderson Method. I did her 30 Day Bootcamp and have now continued on with her Metamorphoses programme. The weight is no longer a struggle and I have discovered that rather than fearing the Dance Cardio, I enjoy it and look forward to it. My current weight loss is 28 lbs since 25 August. I feel so much more mentally alert and empowered.  But you do not want to know how far out of my comfort zone taking that first step and starting the programme was.
The same holds true for writing. It can feel strangely empowering to really face your fear and step out of your comfort zone. Mix things up and try something new. Do something you always said NEVER to. Get out of your comfort zone and try it.  For example: If you are a pantser, try writing an outline. If you are confirmed plotter, write without an out line. Try a different approach to creating your characters. If you thought collages were not for you, try doing a collage and see where that takes you. If interviewing your characters using a recording device.  If you don't know other authors, try going to authors' groups or even a conference. In other words, attack the problem by doing something different. Be open to new approaches. Sometimes even the act of doing something new will excite your creativity and you find all you needed was the jolt.
So if you are feeling stifled by your comfort zone and fear stepping out of it, attack that fear. Force yourself to change some aspect of your comfort zone. You might surprise yourself.
So what sort of creative help do other people fear?
Note I am going to take my own advice and try making a collage for my current wip.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin. Her most recent UK release was To Marry A Matchmaker (July 2011). You can read more about Michelle's books on

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