Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Does it hurt to step out of our comfort zone?

I'm one of those people who likes to try new things even if I don't have the talent. I look at a display of homemade quilts, for example, and wonder if I could make one. I've sewn on a button or two in my time and sewn a hem, but something this intricate? No way. The person who labored over this design was a true artisan.

And speaking of artists, I think I'd love to sit under the sun in the middle of nature and paint. That's what en plein air artists do. Think van Gogh and his sunflowers. Ah...think talent, people. I don't have it.

The same can be said of my writing. I've written contemporary and historical. I've also tried my hand at romantic suspense. Now, I'm trying to write a paranormal. Emphasis on "trying." Is it wrong to step out of our comfort zones as writers? Do you think it puts a dash of freshness to our writings? Over the weekend when my head hit the proverbial "wall" so hard my cheeks still ache, I'd have told you it certainly does hurt to step out of our comfort zones--or our areas of expertise. I mean, what was I thinking?

I was thinking of the beauty and mystery of Scotland and shapeshifters and why there are no bears in that country. Oh, the possibilities....oh, the lack of talent. I felt like I was writing a children's X-rated fairy tale. I kept slapping my forehead, wondering if I was going to feel this silly the whole time I worked on the story. Still, I loved the characters. I loved the premise. I wasn't too thrilled with the pain of venturing into a new sub-genre. Insecure I suppose.

Were YOU to try it and falter, I'd be right there, extending a hand, offering a smile, whispering in your ear you can do this.

So why is it easier to encourage others more so than it is to encourage ourselves? Don't WE deserve to value ourselves as women, as artists, as writers?

We all have our own comfort zones. We've all worked hard to expand them. It's never an easy or painfree process. We flounder and are embarassed. Sometimes we stop trying. More often than not, we keep chipping away at that granite mountain obstacle until we achieve what we want. Our perserverence pays off. Our drive delivers. Our singlemindedness of purpose helps us excel. And we know our power, our real power comes from deep within.

So, will I finish that paranormal? You betcha. Will it be any good? Well, now, let's focus on one thing at a time, shall we. "Finish what you start" is a rule I live by.

What have you started lately? What outside of your comfort zone calls to you? Making a speech? Hiking the Appalachian Trail? Sewing a quilt? Painting a field of blossoms? Or writing an online workshop? I'm betting you can do it.


Ashantay said...

Vonnie, thank you for the kick in the pants, or maybe, plot. Your words are right on target. The next time someone suggests I write something other than contemporary, instead of saying, "but I don't write -" and try it. How else can you find where you fit?

Vonnie Davis said...

OH, I agree, darlin', spread your wings. Even if you write something totally out of your rhelm, you are improving your talents. The more we write the better we get. Your efforts at plotting, research, character development and pacing in a genre you don't normally write will only serve to jazz up your abilities in your favorite genre. No one has to see it, after all...but then you might surprise yourself. Go for it!!!

Beth Trissel said...

Very interesting post and thought provoking. I say yes, step out and explore. You never know what you can do until you try. Love the images on this post too.

Vonnie Davis said...

Hi Beth, with all you've achieved, I have a feeling you often step out of your comfort zone. As you said, you never know until you try.

anny cook said...

Hello, ladies and Vonnie. I write "stuff". I don't write genre. When the book is finished, then I try to figure out what it is.

My first book (actually an entire series) had blue people. Paranormal? Fantasy? Who cares? What's important is whether the story is good. Do we care about the characters?

I'm pretty sure Dickens or Twain or Austen didn't sit down and decide to write a genre. They wrote stories. So leap in and write the story you love. Worry about that other stuff later...much later. :-)

Vonnie Davis said...

Anny, what a refreshing take on writing. Perhaps I need to adopt that philosophy more. Still, when my agent emails or texts me and asks, "So, what are you working on now and when can I have it?", I need some idea...hmmm. Let me think on this. LOL

Jinny B said...

Much to think about here Vonnie. While it became a story about what our writing comfort zone is, the same premise fits in all areas of our lives. We should all strive to see what interesting things we can get into! I'm a grandmother and still jumping into new things all the time, maybe too many things as it makes it hard to settle on a direction and keep going. Hmm, that's another discussion isn't it? I really enjoyed this blog, and will be thinking on it a lot!

Sandra Cox said...

Vonnie, here's a hand. You can do it.