Follow the Yellow

stepping outside the comfort zone

The last three posts make up the beginning of a piece of writing I’ve been toying with for quite a long time. It’s actually the start of a novel I wrote about four or five years ago. Every now and again, I get the whole thing out again, have a look and wonder whether I ought to have a go at rewriting it, or whether I should simply shelve it and move on to something new. I’m still not sure about that, but I thought it would be good to post it here in the interests of take a step outside the comfort zone.

In the past, I know I’ve been fairly useless at getting outside my comfort zone – in terms of writing, at least. I’m much more inclined to settle down in it, put my feet up, maybe make a nice cup of tea. I’m not very good at putting my work “out there”: in spite of good intentions I’ve even chickened out about posting any fiction here up until now. Maybe it’s partly because I’ve never studied creative writing, or even attended a class, so I haven’t entirely got my head around the idea of standing up and acknowledging ownership of my work. Maybe it’s also because I’ve spent so long studying literature which can be a bit of a dangerous thing to do if you want to write yourself.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this a lot of the time: even the best of us get The Fear when it comes to putting our work out there in the world. Evidently even Derrida suffered from anxieties about his writing: “moments of fear” when he came over all neurotic in the middle of the night and was tempted to burn all his papers.

Having said that though, I do think it’s important to get used to the idea of leaving the comfort zone. Writing this blog has been a good step in the right direction: it’s helped me to get back into the habit of writing regularly, but more importantly, to get used to sharing what I write with others and to cope with the scary stuff (see here and here). It’s also taught me that not everything I write has to be carefully worked out and immaculately put together. In fact, I’ve found that sometimes the best things come out of just having a go and not worrying too much. It also makes it a lot more fun, which has to be the point in the end really, doesn’t it?

Anyway posting this has been a good start. Now I just have to keep going and get used to the idea of stepping outside my comfort zone. Or as Derrida himself puts it, I just need to “do what must be done.”

(The excellent picture above is by Keri Smith from her blog wish jar)

2 Comments on stepping outside the comfort zone

  1. cynical ben
    March 21, 2009 at 10:50 pm (13 years ago)

    I definitely prefer your writing to Derrida’s (I’m told he is quite funny in the original French but I’m not convinced that he is funny enough to make it worth learning French to a high enough level to be able to read Derrida).

    I am enjoying your fiction. I loved “fat petals”. It has a wonderful visual poetry to it. You better get that novel finished or I am most definitely going to steal it and use it in my writing.

  2. Katherine
    March 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm (13 years ago)

    Ha! Brilliant comment Ben – I think that’s the best compliment anyone’s ever given me on my writing!

    Very glad to hear you liked my small excursion into the scary territories of fiction – perhaps I’ll have to do it more often…


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