Writing is like anything else. To really get better, we have to push ourselves. We need to constantly reevaluate what feels comfortable…and then take it to the next step. This is the only way to get better, faster, leaner, and tighter. As I always say, it is a wonderful time to be a writer, but it is also a terrifying time to be a writer.
Discoverability is a nightmare when we are competing against everyone with a computer and access to Smashwords. This is why it is so critical to have an on-line platform. But, it is also vital that we learn to write better than the competition and faster. To do this we must train.
To Grow, Do More
When I was in high school, I was on the swim team, and, when we were training for speed, the coach would make us wear a full sweatsuit to swim our laps. Cotton gets seriously heavy when wet. It felt like we were trying to swim laps pulling a tug boat, if we were actually wearing the tug boat. But, let me tell you, when we took the sweat suits off? We swam like greased lighting.
When I began my career as a writer, I thought a 1000 words a day was a really huge deal. Then I did Candy Haven’s Fast Draft (20 pages a day) and after that? 1000 words a day was a breeze. If you want to be able to up that daily word count, push yourself. Train. Amateurs play for fun, but professionals play for keeps.
If we are comfortable, we aren’t growing. We don’t always need to grow quantitatively. There probably is an upper word count limit per day. I know I cannot do more than 4,000 words a day. I get tendonitis every time. But, this doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas where I can still be pushing to make sure I am always bringing my best and making myself grow into a better writer.
Understand We Are Capable of More than We Believe
Most of us underestimate what we are capable of if pushed. Last summer, Ingrid told me about Bikram yoga. I thought she was a nutcase and a masochist.
Seriously? An hour and a half of yoga in a 111 degree room? Are you nuts?
But, I was all about at least trying new things so I went to a class (and thought I was going to die). Anyway, Bikram has a 60 day challenge, 60 sessions in 60 days. So 90 hours in 111 degree room bending in ways you didn’t know people could bend. I thought it was nuts, but I wanted to see what I could do. I figured I would be lucky to make it back for Day 2.
My first goal was just to do 5 days. If I could do 5 days, that was a HUGE deal. Well, 5 turned into 10 days straight. Well, hmmmm. I made it this far, lets try for two weeks. 10 days became 14. Well, why not see if I can make it to 20? I ended up doing the entire 60 days, and this was a person who had no idea how she’d make it through Day 1. But here is the thing. I didn’t believe I could do it in the beginning, but I challenged that belief and now I have a free t-shirt.
I am surprisingly motivated by happy face stickers and free t-shirts.
Face is still red from class, but I DID IT!
5 Ways to Push Your Comfort Zone
1. Increase word count—If you aren’t writing every day, start. I write 6 days a week. Start with 100 words. Once that feels comfortable, go to 200 and pretty soon you will be typing with the big kids. Most of us can’t start with a professional pace. We have to train for it.
2. Start a blog—Blogging has all kinds of benefits, but one of the largest benefits is it helps new writers train for a professional pace. Kill multiple birds with one stone. Sure a blog helps your author brand and platform. But a blog also will train you to make deadlines and up your daily word count. A blog will also help you write cleaner, tighter, faster and leaner.
3. Read a genre you don’t normally read—I can always tell writers who read only in their genre. Get out of the comfort zone and read another genre. It will help you fold new elements to your fiction that will help your work stand apart from the competition.
4. Enter a contest—Contests give us deadlines and also put our work out there for peer review.
5. Write in a genre you don’t normally write—Sometimes getting out of our own genre will help develop new muscles. We might even find out that the genre we originally chose isn’t the best fit. I originally wanted to be a thriller author. Blogging helped me discover that actually I excelled at humor writing. If I hadn’t dared to write non-fiction, I might have never discovered I could make people laugh.
What are some ways you get out of the comfort zone? How do you push yourself to the next level? What keeps you motivated? Do you struggle with being lazy? Have you ever attempted something you believed you could never do, and you actually did it? Tell us your story!
I love hearing from you!
I hope you will hop over to WANA International and sign up for a class. We offer affordable training right in the comfort of your home or office from the best teachers in the industry.
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.