This month we're talking about things that scare us. It occurred to me that most of us are creatures of habit. We like to stay in our nice, safe comfort zones. Maybe it's a job that is boring or a relationship going nowhere or living in a place you'd rather not be. Often it's easier (and a whole lot less frightening) to stick with the status quo than toss it for something new that may or may not work out.
This Comfort Zone also applies to our writing. Do you stay with a genre you're familiar with despite the fact that you're tempted to try something different? Do you have a secret desire to explore a past era or write about werewolves or dive into erotica when everyone knows you write sweet contemporaries? Years ago (actually it was over the summer after I graduated from high school) I sat down and started writing my very first historical romance. I loved the past and was headed off to college to be a history major, after all. What else would I write about? This mind set continued through college and out into the real world. I never did finish that original story, but I completed three other historical romances, found an agent and spent years waiting for that acceptance letter. Didn't happen. Not until I changed gears and wrote a romantic suspense book, submitted to a small press instead of trying for the big ones, and the rest is history. My point being--sucking it up and trying something new and different might be what you need if you feel your writing is in a rut.
Which brings me to point number two. For many of us represented by small presses, submitting to them feels safe. Chances are, you won't be rejected. You may have an editor you already love. Your sales probably aren't much, but your book is out there. This is a great way to start. It's what I did. But after over a half-dozen published books, I had that stuck feeling. My writing was improving (oh boy did it ever!) Looking back at those original manuscripts, I cringe. We all learn and grow. So, maybe it was time to jump out of my comfort zone. Again.
My first leap was into the indie pool with my Secrets of Ravenswood series. I wrote it with the intent to self-publish. That meant a huge jump into the scary unknown of formatting. I'm not a natural at technology. My sixteen-year-old rolled her eyes when I suggested Windows 8 might be a challenge to learn. But I'm not stupid, and after asking questions and going through an endless process of trial and error, I actually came out with three completed digital books! I can't tell you how thrilling and satisfying that was. No, I didn't attempt the covers. My fellow rose, Alison Henderson, made those for me! Next was the daunting task of putting all three books into a paperback anthology (the real book my grandma kept requesting!) which meant learning how to format for CreateSpace. Again lots of questions and trial and error. I was shaking as I pulled the proof copy out of my post office box, afraid I'd screwed up the margins...but it looked perfect! Alison's cover is absolutely beautiful. I'm so glad I jumped out of my comfort zone and into this project!
Almost done--hang in there people! Point number three. One more world to conquer. Yep, back where this journey began--with a rewritten version of my very first completed historical romance and a new agent. Sending that baby out to agents and getting rejected time after time was hard. Until Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency took a chance on me. Now I'm garnering more rejections, but I have faith that this time around one of the big publishers will contract my historical. If they don't--I have a romantic suspense series just waiting...
So, are you in a writing rut? Have I inspired you to leap out of your comfort zone into the scary unknown? I hope so!
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