Best Things in Life (and Writing) Happen Outside of Your Safe Zone

It’s so easy for us to live in a safe zone that we don’t always realize we’re doing it. We order the same things at the same restaurants, or only go to the same restaurants. In families, our safe zone is sometimes our traditions. We always send tulips on Valentine’s Day or eat chocolate cake on our birthday. And in writing our safe zone is what and how we write.

Imagine how much bigger life would be if you tried the new restaurant in the town next door? Or threw out the turkey (that no one really likes) at Thanksgiving and served duck instead.

The same holds true with your writing. If you’ve ever told yourself, or your agent, that that’s just the way you do something, you’re in the safe zone. Or, possibly, the danger zone. It is really hard to build a career if you’re not growing and it’s impossible to grow in your safe zone.

Exploring new ways to write, a new critique group, a new book, or new characters are what will help you grow. These challenges and opportunities are the only way to grow. If you’re living in your safe zone this paragraph will scare you.

As we come to the end of another year I challenge you to look hard at your writing and consider if you’ve settled into your safe zone and how you can break out.

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3 comments

  1. I am on a self-imposed writing sabbatical, taking time off between novels to read and take classes to improve my craft. But I still have a Critique Partner group who expects me to share something with them every other Wednesday. I decided the best way to keep up my participation would be to experiment with Unconventional Points of View. Last week I wrote a short story in Second Person, Future Tense. THAT was a mind-bending experience! My beloved CPs said it hurt their brains, too, but on the whole, they liked it. And it sure did stretch my boundaries! Next week I think I’ll try some First Person Omniscient… maybe.

  2. Couldn’t agree more! I write philosophical fiction and I tiptoe right up to the boundaries of what it’s considered acceptable to say. Then run and hide! The feedback’s been fantastic but I wait nervously for those who are bound to take offence. Exhilarating tho!

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