Getting Out of your Comfort Zone May Help Your Writing

tryingnewthingsquotesI’ve been making an effort to try new things over the last while.  Even things I don’t feel all that confident about. I’ve started using a rowing machine (my body isn’t impressed but  I’m not giving up yet); I’m working on a short story which takes me miles out of my comfort zone; and I’m about to use Adobe Acrobat for the first time to go through a set a page proofs.  Small things, all of them, but the research is clear: doing things differently or learning something new (regardless of whether it’s something significant like a new language or something small like Adobe Acrobat) increases our brain activity and could make us more creative, more energetic, more social and just all around happier.

I’m all for that.

As I learn and stretch and try new things I’ve noticed how much it impacts my writing and helps me see things from a fresh perspective. Writing short stories requires brevity which sharpens my skills. Learning to row has given me insights into a character who plays an important role in a young adult novel I’m writing. Understanding and implementing Adobe Acrobat reminds me of what it was like learning to work with the track change feature in Word years ago.

More than anything, though, change alleviates boredom. The ennui I was beginning to feel at the gym is all gone as I challenge myself on the rowing equipment.  The stress I sometimes feel around writing (deadlines; word lengths; acceptance/rejection) doesn’t apply to the short story I’m flirting with.  I’m writing it just for me. I’m not even sure when I’ll finish it.  Given my tendency to set deadlines and meet them, having a more free flowing approach to a writing project is a new thing for me. It’s taking me totally out of my comfort zone.

And it’s a surprisingly happy place to be.


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