Writing at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone
Posted by Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane Mar 7 2017, 1:01 am
I don’t really love public speaking. I like to think I’m not bad at it, but it is something I do with sheer determination rather than any sense of delight. Last weekend, at the marvelous NOLA Written in the Stars conference, I gave two workshops with the lovely and talented Kim Law – with a determined smile on my face. And you know what? It was pretty dang great.
I remember the first conference I ever went to. How blown away I was by the workshops at the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Georgia, lo these many years ago. The authors seemed so incredibly wise and I learned SO MUCH. It feels like a pivotal moment in my writing career – a time when the world opened up. And now I get to pay it forward. I get to take the things I’ve managed to glean from my last decade in this industry and pass it along. Was it nerve-wracking? A bit. Totally worth it? Absolutely.
I firmly believe we have to be willing to push ourselves in order to grow as writers – and this doesn’t just apply to pushing ourselves into public speaking. Whether its trying a new subgenre or a new premise or a new narrative structure, we need to keep reaching so our writing stays fresh.
Writing is a constant exercise in pushing our limits. We had to be brave the first time we showed our work to another human. The first time we submitted to an agent or an editor. The first time we put our work out there for the public to read and review. Writing is one act of bravery after another.
I have a new book out today – Little White Lies. A few months ago, when I was in the early stages of this book I kept saying things like, “I don’t know how I’m going to do it” and “I’m worried about pulling it off.” Signs that I was at the edge of my comfort zone. This wasn’t my wheelhouse. I was pushing myself to write a story that was layered on itself, with complicated histories and dual timelines. It was a challenge and I spent several months scared I was going to flub it all up. (Just ask anyone in my family who got to hear me say, “I’m pretty sure it’s stupid” when they asked me how my books was going.)
How did it turn out? Well, I’m a bad judge of my own work and I’m still nervous about it as it releases today, but a couple of my beta readers have called it “the best thing” I’ve ever written and their “favorite book” of mine – so it can’t be too terrible, right? 🙂 I know other readers may disagree (not everyone is gonna love it, I know that), but how many of us would publish at all if we stayed safely inside our comfort zones? We have to stretch! We have to push! We have to be brave! Because the best things in life happen when we put our comfort zones in the rear view mirror and keep on going.
How are you going to be brave today? What can you do to push your writing to that next level?
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Lizzie Shane is the Golden Heart-winning and two-time RITA nominated author of over 30 romance titles. She loves to travel and push her comfort zones in that way as well and also writes paranormal romance under the name Vivi Andrews.