Thursday, April 4, 2013
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
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.