I’ve never actually been to a professional sporting event, as far as I remember. Before you sports fanatics out there start judging me, though, I would like to point out that today is my last chance to type that sentence, because tomorrow I’m going to watch the Wheelchair Rugby at the Invictus Games. Frankly, I have no idea what to expect except screaming, crowds, and a sport I’m told is also affectionately known as ‘Murderball’. I’m looking forward to it, but I can’t say I’m not nervous! Still, it’s good to get out of one’s comfort zone now and then, and tomorrow is swiftly looming towards the ‘now’ category. I’m hoping it will be a great new experience and do me good. Even if I get a bit panicky, I still get to show my support for wounded servicemen who are pushing through their setbacks and showing the world what they can do.
In writing, too, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Whether that means letting somebody else read your work for the first time, writing in a different genre, or just pushing the limits of an ambitious plot, it’s healthy to try to stretch yourself and improve. Perhaps it’ll be a disaster and you’ll have to hide it from the world or start again, but it could be really good for you, and it’s better to try new things than to always stick to the safe options. If you always do the same thing, how will you know what else you can do? You might find that the new genre you’re trying out is your calling, or that you want as many people as possible to read your work in future. It’s worth pushing yourself forward and past the boundaries of ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’.
Your characters, too, begin to really show their true colours when pushed beyond their usual limits. It’s important to know what it is that makes your characters uncomfortable, and to recognise when they are indeed out of their comfort zone. How they react is a true test of character, and one that a fictional character can’t fail; whether they run away, collapse under pressure and go to pieces, or come out stronger on the other side, the important thing is that your characters can’t always be in control of everything in their world. You, of course, are, and you can shelter them from all harm and fear if you so wish, but there’s nothing wrong with making your characters mildly anxious or even turning their worlds upside down now and then. Indeed, in a character-driven story, that’s often the driving force behind the plot.
Anyway – those are my thoughts, for what they’re worth. Wish me luck tomorrow, and I’ll try to schedule a post before I go!