I like my comfort zone. And I tend to stay there a lot, writing what I know and enjoy. I’m busy with something familiar and easy all the time. It feels safe.
Almost a year ago I looked at the stack of nearly finished manuscripts I’d accumulated over the past ten years and knew I had to make some changes so I could grow as a writer.
In the past six months I’ve moved way beyond the white picket fence of the familiar. And it’s been fun. It’s generated a creative surge that brings me, energized and excited, into this season of renewal.
The first thing that opened the gate in that fence was an opportunity that came out of supporting an intriguing publishing concept. I made a couple of contributions and wrote a handful of posts about the Kickstarter for the enhanced novel, Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus (which won Best Adult Fiction App for 2014 from Digital Book World).
Out of that came an exchange of emails with the publisher, Richard Monson-Haefel. Within a few days I was on the phone with him, receiving an offer to become a book producer for his boutique publishing house, Noble Beast. Richard already had a book in mind for me to work on.
Now, I read all the time. All. The. Time. But I’d never read an enhanced novel, because I don’t own an iPad. Could I even imagine how to produce an enhanced novel without that experience?
Maybe it’s because I do read. Or maybe it’s because I read just about every genre, fiction and non-fiction. But I could picture in my mind what that novel would look like and how it would work.
But could I produce one? That was the moment when I could have stepped back inside my gate, back into the safety of what I know and what I’ve already done.
Instead, I took a deep breath—stepped through the gate, and down the Avenue of Creative Challenge.
The novel is edited and rewritten, and I’m now working with the author and artist to select the illustrations. I’m also creating and attaching the text enhancements that will open when a reader clicks on a character’s name or the description of a weapon or tool.
It’s new, it’s different. I have to learn new software tools. I have to stretch my capabilities. And it’s crazy fun.
In the meantime, two other opportunities to move in new writing directions came my way. And because I allowed myself to step past my familiar writing world to get involved with the Noble Beast project, I know I’m ready to stretch even further into new creative ventures.
So in the next couple of posts I’ll be telling you more about these projects. In the meantime, ask yourself a few questions. When was the last time you worked on something outside your comfort zone–something completely new? What’s holding you back? What would it take for you to move just one step in a new direction? What would you lose if you never try?