Healthy Writers Club: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Apr 26, 2013

Due to some changes in life, my health goals have also shifted a bit. Basically, I've had to cut back on the type and intensity of my exercise, at least for now. I'm still doing occasional Zumba, but shorter and less intense workouts. Running has been sidelined for now. Instead, I stepped a little outside my comfort zone and am trying something new. Yoga.

I've done a bit of yoga before, but didn't really get into it. However, I'm trying a new yoga video, and am kind of shocked by how much I enjoy it. It makes me feel strong and flexible (even though I'm not much of either), and gives me a good workout without wearing me out. It's a perfect fit for my life right now, and I never would have found it if I hadn't decided to give something another try that was just a bit out of my comfort zone.

Something similar happened in my writing recently. I had been working on a story that just wasn't feeling right. I love the story, but it wasn't fitting my life at the moment. So I spent a few days daydreaming, and came up with a new idea. And it was nothing I'd ever done before-- fantasy set in a completely different world. I was a little hesitant at first. But I've read tons of high fantasy and second-world fantasy, and my awesome crit group has written some so they can tell me if I go astray. I've been reading new books, studying up on fantasy writing itself, and planning out this new story that's a bit out of my comfort zone.

I bought this necklace the other day because these
labyrinths are part of my magic system. Fun!
And I LOVE it. It fits my life right now. It hits some real personal and emotional buttons for me. I'm so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone to give this one a try!

So, my friends, what have you done lately that's outside your comfort zone?

The Difference Between Being a "Beginning" Writer and a "Bad" Writer

Apr 16, 2013

So. Hi there. It's been a while. Some personal stuff meant I took a sort of impromptu blog break, but no worries-- all is well! And the time off gave me a chance to muse on further blog topics, so here goes!

I've been thinking a lot about writing, publishing, and how it all "works." For me, personally, I've been writing for years. And I'm going to be honest: it took a while for me to write anything that could be considered a good story. But here's the thing. That doesn't mean I was a "bad" writer when I started out. I was a BEGINNING writer.

Nobody listens to an eight-year-old slaughter Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano and says they're a bad pianist. They're learning. They're figuring out which notes are which keys, and which fingers go where, and how to play them smoothly, and quickly, and correctly. And that's wonderful.

Writing takes time. We start off slaughtering a semi-decent idea. And that's wonderful. Sure, it's no masterpiece. It's our first, or third, or seventeenth attempt, and we managed some words on paper that resemble a story. We learn about character development, and which plot points go where, and how to pace things and add emotion. When I look back on my early writing, I smile at myself-- not because I'm laughing, but because I'm proud of my beginning-writer-self.

Because being a beginner is HARD. It takes more work. It involves more frustration. And yet we slapped those stories together and made something real, even if it was just a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle.

One reason I've brought this up is because of the instant gratification of self-publishing. Now, don't misunderstand-- I think self-publishing can be a fabulous and legitimate way to publish your work. I've read some incredible works that have been self-published. BUT. I think it's a path that's, if possible, even more fraught with obstacles than traditional publishing.

One thing I've noticed is a lot of people who query like crazy, don't get signed, and decide to self-publish instead. Again-- this is NOT necessarily a bad thing. There are a myriad of reasons a book may not get picked up. But it's important to remember that one of the big reasons is that the book is just still a little too close to the beginner end of the scale. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. With self-publishing, the cautionary tale is taking that beginner-end novel and shopping it to the masses. In a way, it's selling yourself short. Instead of moving on to the next book and getting further along the writing path, it can hold you back by keeping you focused on a story that's just not quite there yet.

I may get some flak for this, though I hope not. Self-publishing, just like traditional publishing, is a completely personal decision, and often depends on the individual book. It can be a valid, and sometimes better, way to get your particular story into the hands of readers. It involves a heck of a lot of hard work, and I have serious respect for those who do it.

But it's not something to rush into. Yes, moving from a beginning writer to a competent writer to a great writer takes time. We're all still hiking somewhere along that path. It's okay for it to take time. It should take time. So let it. Enjoy it. Don't let the world of the internet tell you that publishing is something you must achieve by this time next year.

You are not a bad writer, no matter where you are along the path, as long as you're moving forward.

So, my friends, what are your thoughts?

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