Thursday, April 4, 2013

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Push and I were talking last night.  And I mean actually talking because believe it or not, I'm writing this post from her house.  That's right, we had a fanfic writer's conference and none of you were invited.  Or, more accurately, Zyra was going to be in the area for completely unrelated reasons and Push offered for her to stay.  So, here I am.  Don't be too jealous.  We haven't played Star Wars Trivial Pursuit yet, but hopefully soon. 

Anyway, we were talking, and a long-term running joke between us is my complete unwillingness to 'color outside the lines.'  We can laugh about this, because I know it is incredibly true and yet totally irrational, and yet the thought of writing anything too AU or something that maybe explores the characters in a different sort of way than normal practically gives me an anxiety attack.  Or what I imagine one might be like because I've never actually had one.  Push likes to make fun of me for this and I definitely don't blame her. 

Specifically, last night, she said, "You need to get them out of the living room!"  I started laughing because I'd never really thought about it before, but seriously, that seems to be where most of my stories take place.  They usually only involve characters with the last name Solo (or who will soon wind up with the last name Solo) maybe a protocol droid, possibly a Wookiee, and on rare occasions, someone's Jedi twin brother.  Obviously there are exceptions but this is the most common theme.  Even worse is that I realize that any tiny idea that pops into my head lately, probably for the last several months of mostly not writing, almost always is just some silly little thing that happens.... in their living room.  That's not to say that there can be no good stories that take place in their living room.  I actually quite like a couple of them.  But it really does demonstrate that I'm mostly only willing to write within this tiny little bubble of safety. 

This is not productive.  Part of it for me is that I don't seem to come up with bigger ideas that are out of my comfort zone.  But that's not entirely accurate because I have in fact had bigger ideas that are very much out of the comfort zone, but rather than explore and pursue them I look at them and feel overwhelmed at the idea of it and simply decide that I can't deal with it and it doesn't get written. 

Push, as you can probably tell by her stories, has no issue with this.  She routinely explores AU things or taking the characters in wildly different directions that would make my palms sweat just trying to type them up.  We even discussed this when starting the latest joint story and how this could "change" how they wind up together and take things AU before ESB.  (whether or no that actually happens has not been determined yet, what you've read is all that is written.) 

Why is it so hard to get out of our comfort zones?  What is it that holds us back?  I'm genuinely asking, because I can't figure it out!  I do know that it is not really a good place to get yourself stuck.  It is severely limiting.  It gives you no opportunity to grow as a writer or explore the characters in new ways.  It makes for endlessly boring stories about Han and Leia in their living room talking about mundane things. 

So, first of all, let's talk about comfort zones.  In the comments, let us know if this is an issue for you, or maybe if it used to be and how you got past it.  Or if you have ideas on how to get past it.  Second of all, how about a challenge?  Write something out of your comfort zone.  You get to define what that comfort zone is and write something outside of it.  If you hate writing stories from before they were a couple, try writing something set just after ANH.  If writing sexy time is out of your comfort zone, give that a try.  If writing something AU is out of your comfort zone, try taking things in a different direction.  It doesn't have to be anything incredibly crazy, just something you wouldn't normally write, or something that had made you nervous in the past. 

And I promise I'll try and do this, too.  I don't know how it'll go, but we shall see.  Push can personally harass me for a while though until I finally try it.

63 comments:

  1. Getting out of my comfort zone is a HUGE issue for me. You'd think that being a researcher, it'd be easy, but in fact it's very anxiety inducing. Every time I come up with a new hypothesis, it freaks me out some, and testing it out is often confusing and cumbersome.

    Same with writing fic. Despite my being a SW fan for 36 years now, I feel that I'm just getting to know Han and Leia and the others that influence their lives. So I'm kind of heading down the ladder into the swimming pool, one step at a time, not sure I'm ready to swim. This is where I am right now. I want to dive in, but I'm still feeling it out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Were I to do an assignment out of my comfort zone, I'd probably have Leia and Han having a nasty argument. I have a hard time believing that two people with incredibly strong wills don't go off on each other periodically, but here's the problem: I'm conflict averse.

    But I'll give it a try :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I could see how writing a fic like that would be difficult. I would *love* to see you give it a try!

      Delete
    2. Yep, I agree on that kind of story AND being conflict averse. I did make myself write a story like that and I still consider it epic failure but I leave it up anyway. I don't like writing them fighting!

      Delete
    3. I am going to do it. Blessedly, I have next week off, which is why I'm grading frantically so that I CAN have the week off :)

      Delete
    4. Good Luck, Stats! Keep us posted.

      Delete
  3. This is an interesting post. I initially started reading and was arrogantly thinking, "Huh, I don't have a 'comfort zone' issue. I'm up for whatever!" If anything, I probably would've considered my first writing a fic at all as stepping out of my "comfort zone" (seriously, it gave me enormous anxiety in the beginning!) But then I thought about it and realized I have never written a fic that takes place before they "got together", nor have I ever been tempted to go there (I know it's not like I have a large library of written fic, but still). And my refusal to write a fic like that is not due to lack of interest, because I definitely enjoy fics that take place then. I think it's because I consider that era my "scary place".

    A perfect example that illustrates this point is that recently I was given a fanfic challenge that took place during ESB, and I remember immediately thinking "Oh, no, I couldn't do that....yikes!" And I'm not sure why this is. Maybe I don't think I could get their banter down right. Or maybe I'm not sure I could effectively write the UST. But for whatever reason, the prospect of writing them in this era immediately gave me anxiety. And I never wrote it .

    So, wow, yeah. You really got me thinking about something that I don't think I was consciously aware of until just now. Hmm.

    Cool post. I'm interested in reading what other people consider their "comfort zones" and "scary places." :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I triggered something for you. I used that specific example because that is another one that I tend to avoid as well. I usually just like to skip straight to when they are together and happy and all of that other crap has alerady sorted itself out. I've since written a tiny bit in that arena, but not much. Actually, I just checked and of everything I've written, it appears that there are TWO examples of before they got together. And one was a challenge response.

      See, the comfort zone doesn't have to be anything major. It can be writing action sequences when you shy away from them. Writing a few more characters into the story when you tend to only use the two of them and maybe a small handful of others. Writing a story in first person instead of third. I'm betting all of us have something that someone might tell us to write and we'd think, "No, I CAN'T write a story like that!"

      Delete
  4. As a new writer, pretty much everything is out of my comfort zone at the moment. Both my stories have featured Han and Leia and no other characters, because it just feels easier not to bother with them. I've also set both stories in one place, the first had them in bed the whole way through, the second in their living room. I just wanted to focus on them and found the prospect of going too adventurous with it extremely daunting. But maybe this is all just because I'm new at this, and as I write more things I'm hoping to maybe be a little more daring.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, interesting topic. I have to agree writing that first fic was nerve wracking! And certainly trying to write fast and tame my inner critic hasn't been easy. Not impossible, but a bit hard.

    But I realize I don't prefer to write pre-ESB stories or before they are together. I like to be able to write them all touchy feely and they can't be that way if they are still fighting their attraction to each other. I did write one story from that timeframe, but it was a bit tough.

    Oh, a battle scene or action scene would be tough. Not sure that would be something I'd feel confident about. I'm not sure I'd have trouble writing them fighting. My family has been known to get loud and yell from time to time. But I can see being conflict adverse.

    What about writing sexy time? Is that out of comfort zone for some? I know it can be hard to be confident about the first time writing it.

    Oh, are we back to the speedo pic for a background? Sweet! Me like!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't believe I didn't mention the speedo pic! Is it bad that I'm not looking at his FACE? ;)

      Delete
    2. He has a face? Huh. I didn't make it that far up. ;)

      Delete
  6. IDK, I don't think I have a comfort zone. Zyra says action and comedy are probably my 'comfort zone' issues. That is true, I don't like to write action or comedy but that's because I'm not GOOD at it. Does that count as a comfort zone issue? IDK. I'm not afraid of them, I just see them as things I don't excel at.

    And you are all welcome for today's background pic. The more comments the longer Han stays up there!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't think I agree. I could read "living room" H/L fanfics all day, so if you are comfortable writing those and write well, how is that a problem? It's not. I say, keep up the good work. I don't like most AU stuff (the current joint story a notable exception) and enjoy reading anything that is a missing moment. I wouldn't see comfort zone issues as a problem unless you personally felt that your writing had stymied or that you were limiting yourself. Zyra, your writing suffers none of those things, so keep writing what youe feel, and stop worrying. (This all coming from someone who has yet to write!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ahh shoot, longer that Harrison stays the better.

    I think I have to agree with Push, action and comedy is really difficult at the moment. Angst? Easy. Romance? Check. Even writing family time for the Solos/Skywalkers? Uh huuh. Han/Leia? You can guess ;) .

    My previous efforts at action have been mediocre at best, but that was a long while ago. I want to break outta my bubble but right now...ehh. :S

    ReplyDelete
  9. What the hell is this background guys? April Fools was on Monday! Where's my man gone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This background is REALLY out of my comfort zone...

      Delete
    2. I'm with them! Dude, seriously. I was already going to comment all the time just to keep the speedo pic.

      Delete
    3. Ok, even my daughter said ewwww.

      Delete
    4. LOL! I guess it's dangerous to get Zyra and I together and think of ways to get you guys to post! It was pretty fun picking just the right picture last night. Actually, it was physically painful. I didn't realize how deep my aversion went for these two. We had to peruse several hundred Han/Leia pics afterwards just to ward off the nightmares.

      I'm thinking this post SHOULD make it to the top ten lists with all the comments we should be getting. Maybe I'll change it to the runner up later. I know you guys think it can't get worse, but really, it can. he he he

      Delete
    5. Lol! That's just evil. :) I love how you had to go look at Han and Leia pics afterwards. I don't blame you on the aversion.

      Oh, please no more Annie and Padamame. Yuck! I can't take it. And I'd rather not get sick all over my iPad.

      Delete
    6. Yep, we were laughing like idiots when we decided to put up a new background pic. And we were kind of disappointed in ourselves for not doing it as a April Fools thing. You have no idea how difficult it was to look through all of those awful pictures. It also included one piece of "artwork" of Anakin, Padme, AND Obi-Wan in bed together. Fortunately only cuddling (unfortunately naked), but that was graphic enough.

      Then we soothed our senses with good Han and Leia pics. That felt better.

      Delete
    7. Too bad you couldn't change the pic at the top of the post. That would be even worse.

      All of them in bed together? Ewwwww. Can you post a pic of Han and Leia in bed together to erase that thought from my head?

      Delete
    8. You guys are just so bad! I thought for a moment this site had been hacked or something because it wasn't April fools, and why would you subject us to that horror show? Ok, so what do we have to do to get speedo Harrison back?

      Push, your comment about us thinking things can't get any worse and then you saying that yes they can, that really scares me now, please reassure us you will not be posting naked pics of Annie and Paddy? I think I will have to scourge out my eyes!

      And yes, Amara has a really good point, we need a pic of Han and Leia in bed to recover!

      Delete
    9. That was a speedo pic? Damn, my eyes suck worse than I think they do (and they suck a lot).

      Delete
    10. I've seen artwork of Padme and Palpatine together...now that was an image that stained my brain.

      Delete
    11. Shaking head. Omg, you ladies are killing me. Another pic of yuck? And no profic quote to match? Y'all might owe me a new ipad. What do we need to do to end this torture? (Seriously.) This is enough to get me back to photoshopping.

      Please bring back the speedo pic!

      Delete
    12. Holy crapness, another horrid pic? Seriously, are we REALLY that bad?

      Oh god, this one is worse....they're looking at each other!

      Delete
    13. It could be worse. They could be kissing...with tongues. :)

      Delete
    14. Gah, be gone evil thoughts! But you know what, I have a theory these pics are going to get worse, each one will be a bit more cringeworthy than the last, until they end up naked!!!

      Delete
    15. At least we could get to see Han and Leia naked first. And I'm afraid you might have given them ideas, lol.

      Delete
    16. ...The things I miss when I don't have a computer.

      Although, I'm not sure I WANT to know what was up with the picture before. I'm perfectly happy with the way it is right now.

      Delete
  10. What I find true about writing: Dying's easy. Comedy's hard :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that comedy is hard, in the sense that you definitely have to be in the right mood/mind frame to do it. At least for me. I don't think I could just write something funny "on command". I'd have to be inspired.

      But that said, I wrote a "humor" piece in response to a fanfic challenge several years ago, and I have to say, working on that story was probably some of the most fun I ever had writing. And not just fanfic, but all writing. And I whipped it out relatively quickly. Part of the reason might've been that I was actively working on a much longer fic at that time that was going in a dark direction, and I needed a break from that. You know, go and do something with a very different tone. Who knows. But I found the experience totally enjoyable.

      And that's another reason why this is such a good discussion. Because maybe if people forced themselves to branch out and try new things, they might find they really enjoy it. And maybe the change of pace might be inspiring in itself. :-)

      Delete
    2. I love writing comedy. And H+ L lend themselves to it wonderfully. I am working on them having a rather unpleasant argument, and a loud one. And it's going to take a while before any makeup sex occurs.

      Delete
  11. I definitely have a comfort zone that I need to break out of. Funny that Push said you need to 'get them out of the living room', Z. I've noticed that I have a tendency to want to write them in a bed (not in the fun way you all prefer ;). Just in a bed, somehow. But I think it's because I always feel like writing when before I go to sleep, so what do you know, I'm in a bed. Maybe I just need to find a different location!

    I also fear huge stories...I can never come up with anything beyond a few scenes. I've even tried to stretch out, but I end up abandoning them.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Is it a bad sign that the words 'out of your comfort zone' put me right into the abuse, & harm categories?
    Come on guys, these pictures are making my eyes burn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, good one. I don't think it's a bad sign. That would be really, really out of my comfort zone. Not sure I could even read a story like that.

      Delete
  13. I vote that we hassle Z and Push till we get reasonable wallpaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could go on and on I'm sure. :) Currently I'm trying not to gouge my eyes out.

      Well, the did say it could get worse. They could change the blog name, profic quote. Everything.

      Delete
    2. Don't give them anymore ideas!

      Delete
  14. Yay! The horrors have gone and mr sex on a stick is back in his rightful place. Thanks ladies.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Okay, this is much better. Thanks, Push and Z!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Remember, shameless begging: it's not just for sex anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Finally de-lurking on this one to say that I'm going out of my comfort zone in three big ways right now: 1) writing fiction (I'm usually more about essays and work-based stuff), 2) writing fan fiction (still dealing with some pesky embarrassment issues on that one :( )' and 3) writing erotica! Hey if you're gonna dive in, why not go right into the deep end, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, brave soul! That's awesome. How much have you written so far?

      Delete
    2. Woah, sounds good. Good luck with it, Lady Peter.

      Delete
    3. That does sound pretty good. Good luck!

      Delete
    4. Go for it! And keep us posted!

      Delete
    5. Thanks! Who knows if anything will ever see the light of day, as it were. Every few days I get inspired, open up my iPad, and type a few lines, while fully _hiding my own eyes_ from what I've already written. =)

      Hey, Push: speaking of comfort zones, I have your "It Is Your Destiny" queued up to read next!

      Delete
    6. Oh, just keep in mind that it is unfinished and destined to probably stay that way for awhile. :-(

      Delete
    7. OK! I'll keep that in mind. By the way, "Shifting Impressions" and "From a Certain Point of View" are two of my absolute favorites! You write like someone who's been part of this fandom since early childhood!

      Delete
  18. As much as I'd love to go back and read all the comments...I don't have anywhere near enough time to do that (which honestly makes me very sad, and that's why I mentioned that).

    Anyway...I'm very happy to finally have gotten on a computer to read this article and type up a response, since my laptop and primary computer for writing and everything else, has been dead and basically MIA for almost a month now. Yes, I'm going insane.

    But I couldn't not respond to this article, which I saw the post for the other day (although I tend to avoid reading these on the computer at school because a screen full of Harrison Ford would probably look a little odd). I am, in every way, often times stuck in my comfort zone. You can see it all the way through 40 Days. It's SOOOO easy to write the romance that occurs...the occasional fighting and the make-ups and the cuteness that anyone could imagine.

    But lately I've been forcing myself to go out of my comfort zone. With the sequel, Promises, I don't have Han to rely on anymore...and I'm forced right along with Leia into tougher situations and plotlines that are no long easy. They honestly require a lot more thinking, and it's much harder for me to write them...but I hope by the end I come out having learned something and improved.

    And, on a somewhat side-note, I've realized that pieces of Han and Leia have weaved into my other writing. In my creative writing class, we had to do short stories...and oddly enough the main character was a woman attempting suicide because her family had been killed in a fire. Meanwhile a man who is undoubtedly happy appears and changes her...well...sort of. Is it odd that he's got these hazel-green-brown-ish eyes (HF's eyes are so hard to describe sometimes) and he's a good foot taller? I don't think so.

    I should probably stop talking now...but this post does bring up a good point, and hopefully I'll be back with some time to read through comments soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read your series. Always looking forward to more :)

      Delete
  19. You know what would really be out of the comfort zone? An Anakin/Padme joint story. Especially since we're all Han and Leia shippers. Just a thought. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol. It could be a send up of their "awesome" love story (cough), play it for laughs and just write the absolute worst love dialogue you can imagine.

      "Oh Padme"
      "Oh Annie"
      "You're so beautiful...when I look at you I want to throw up, because I'm just soooo in love with you, I can't bare it."
      "Oh Annie"
      "Oh Padme"

      Delete
    2. Hahahahaha...couldn't restrain my laughter on that one.

      But it's true...that would be out of our comfort zones. Not sure I'd want to go quite that far out of mine though.

      Delete