header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Get Out of Your Comfort Zone! - Kristen Koster
Jun 222012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked about Comfort Zones. So what exactly is one?

Comfort Zone: Those places or activities where you’re comfortable and free from anxiety.

Things that create stress and ratchet up your fears are most certainly outside of your comfort zone.

Now, there’s no question I’m an introvert, I’m drained by physically being around other people and being “on” for them, which is one of the reasons I love the internet. So one of my physical comfort zones is my cave.
I don’t have a dark cave, but it’s mine and it’s comfy.

As you can guess, I REALLY dislike doing new things in new places, especially with new people. Just joining RWA and attending my local chapter meetings used to be outside my comfort zone. Now, I don’t want to miss a month! At times it can be a bit draining, but mostly it’s become something that is a breath of fresh air each month. A sort of homecoming.

On the writing front, there have been a few other frontiers that I’ve ventured toward this year: contests, conferences, and submitting to agents.

In each of these areas, I’ve told myself, “It’s ok. Do it once, if you really hate it, don’t do it again. But you’ve tried. Each step past the line is that much farther you’re stepping out of your comfort zone.”

Ok, so the verdict is still out on conferences, but I’m actually excited about it, not freaking out. Maybe I will when I get there, but I’ll have made the effort. I think it’s interesting that I didn’t even ask my family if they wanted to tag along this time. This is progress for me.

Contests: once I submitted to one contest, I submitted to another. Submitting was the easy part. Reading the score sheets was far more difficult! But I survived. Will I do it again? Probably. It was a great way to get impartial feedback from experienced writers.

Submitting to agents: I haven’t gone hog wild with this one. I’m actually “still waiting” to hear from the agency I submitted to last fall to get my PRO status. Yeah, not holding my breath though! I also won two opportunities through other agents to submit a bit of my work to them for critique. Talk about removing most of the pressure! I got very valuable feedback from one of them and I’m still waiting to hear from the other. It’s only been a few weeks, so I’m not worried! I know how super busy she is from twitter.

I think the biggest thing I gained from these latter two opportunities wasn’t just the feedback, but getting concrete evidence that they’re real people who love books too. They’re not scary except how we build them up in our minds as makers and breakers of our careers.

Does that mean I’m rushing out to query every other agent on the planet? Nope! But, I know it’s issues concerning my manuscript that are holding me back and not fear of the agents themselves.

“Been there, done that.” Is a big phrase for me and it doesn’t come with negative connotations. I don’t hear it in that condescending air of ennui. It doesn’t mean I’m bored with something, but rather that I’ve experienced it and it’s not a huge unknown looming on the horizon for me. It’s more of a “No big deal” type of phrase in my head.

YOUR TURN: What do YOU do to push yourself to step out of your comfort zones?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

  4 Responses to “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!”

Comments (4)
  1. I try to look at things that will force me out of my comfort zone as opportunities or learning experiences. This mindset makes the new thing less scary and harder for me to talk myself out of doing it.

    • Great attitude, Kim! I think the most important for me is looking at it that way but also including the “Just do it once” after I can push myself that far, doing it again is usually easier.

  2. Just having a blog and Twitter with my real name is a big step for me. I’ve been querying for a while, which is emotionally taxing, but I do tend to keep it to myself to minimise embarrassment…

    Good on you for getting out there and socialising with other authors in person. That is a step I’m yet to make. I don’t know if I even have a local romance writers group, but I know the national conference has always been on weekends when I’ve been otherwise engaged and I’m not a member. I sort of feel like I should be an actual author before joining up.

    • That’s awesome progress, Charlotte! It took me forever to step out from behind my online persona. Granted, Kaige has been my nickname since college and I started using it online soon after, but standing up and saying, “I AM A WRITER” is something else. I found it was hardest to label myself that way. MUCH harder than to introduce myself that way to strangers, if that makes any sense.

      As far as waiting until you’re a “real author”, you are when YOU say you are. I wish I’d joined sooner in many ways. RWA has a lot of programs/support for new writers. There are also online chapters. But, if paying is an issue, you might want to check into a writer’s forum like Romance Divas, Savvy Authors, Writer Unboxed or something like that. I joined Romance Divas about 5 years ago and found a wonderful resource of knowledgeable writers and people who got the writing life.

      Good luck, Charlotte! Take the steps you need when you’re ready. They all count toward your journey!

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