Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone
In writing, like in any other part of our lives, we can find ourselves doing the same thing, the same way, over and over. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; there are many processes in day-to-day life that are much better if done systematically—socks before shoes and brushing after meals, you know what I mean. But there are so many instances when following a pattern of same stuff, different day can lead to a rut. And as a writer, a rut is the very last place you want to be.
So, how do you escape that rut? How do you stretch beyond your comfort zone and do something new, something a little scary, a little risky?
In your writing, you can:
- Write from the point of view of your antagonist instead of your protagonist or from the point of view of a completely unlikable, undesirable, unsympathetic individual.
- Write third person instead of first, past tense instead of present tense.
- Change genres. Do your investigation and research first, of course, and try Diva Lauren’s writing exercise, “Write Outside Your Comfort Zone.”
- Find your tic and do a one-eighty. Are you overly wordy? Think of streamlining. Do you focus on dialogue? Shift your focus to narrative. And of course read Diva Lauren’s article, “How to Spot Your Tic.”
- Do a self edit and be your own devil’s advocate.
In your editing, you can:
- Consider asking for an assessment. This can be hard for many because it requires quite a leap of faith, and you must check your ego at the door while you allow professional editors to what they do best: pick your manuscript apart to identify what works, what doesn’t, and what steps you can take to improve it.
- Get the whole shebang—content edit, copy edit, and proofread—and let your editors really earn their money.
- Don’t automatically reject any changes. Put off all rejections for at least forty-eight hours and really think about why you’re rejecting them. If it’s simply habit or because the suggestion hurts your feelings, don’t. Push through and allow the change.
- Let your worst critic read your book—and take her comments seriously, not emotionally. Why does your critic say your characters are dull? Have you not spent enough time developing their back stories? Or is the criticism that the story is not paced well? Where can you correct your pacing? Do you have scenes that drag? Scenes that rush? Don’t just listen to the comments, but really hear what is being said.
With your book, you can:
- Change the concept of your cover—or go for that over-the-top, outlandish cover you’ve been too nervous to suggest to your artist.
- Consider a new or up-and-coming artist to create something fresh and unique just for you. Give your artist free rein to come up with something from a one- or two-word prompt and view it with an open mind instead of preconceived notions.
- If you haven’t already, consider a formatter who will catch every stray tab and extra space, making your e-book clean and crisp.
In your marketing, you can:
- Organize your social media. There are countless programs that allow social media to interact with each other so that you, as the user, only make one comment that is seen by many.
- Venture out to that one that scares you the most. Does Facebook make you nervous? Create an author page. Not on Twitter? Create an author account. Link your social media together.
- Be your best promoter—don’t let an opportunity to talk about your book pass you by. Whether that’s at the grocery store, the gym, the dentist, or your kid’s soccer game, you can sneak in a mention or two.
- Hire a new marketing company. New companies are popping up daily, thrilled to have your business. Check some out, look at a blog tour, and find some short-term promotion ideas.
With your readers, you can:
- Form a street team or reader/fan group and interact with them.
- Create giveaways, read alongs, signing events, and other readercentric events to show your appreciation.
- Keep your website or blog up-to-date with pertinent information regarding your upcoming books. Have a reader page, where readers can leave comments for you or for each other about your stories.
That’s a lot of challenges, I’ll admit. But the next time you feel as though you need a change, see if one of these suggestions helps get you going.