I’ve shared thoughts before about the importance of being true to ourselves in our writing, so perhaps I won’t be saying anything new in this post. The idea, however, is an important one, and I believe it bears repeating. We can’t be someone we’re not, and we can’t write something we don’t enjoy.
I think each of us has a “comfort zone” in writing, and personally, I consider that a good thing. If I browse around on the internet a bit, though, I find constant references to the need to get out of our comfort zones.
The magic, it’s said, can’t happen until we step away from the comfortable, until we’re willing to take risks.
Nope. I don’t agree. That may well be true in many fields of endeavor, but writing is an exception, at least, in my ever-so-humble opinion.
On more than one occasion, I’ve started a new story only to find myself uncomfortable with the writing. When that happens, I don’t enjoy the time I spend writing. I don’t look forward to sitting down and getting busy with the story. I soon realize I don’t care all that much for my characters. Quite simply, writing becomes a chore. A job. A task.
That’s not how I want to approach my stories. For me, writing needs to be enjoyable. If it’s not, I don’t want to do it. There are enough obligations and “things I must do” in my life. Writing shouldn’t be one of them. Writing is what I love.
Whenever I find myself dreading the writing process, it’s because I’ve strayed away from who I truly am as I writer. I’ve left my “comfort zone” — which, for me, is another way of saying “who I am.” I quickly change course and head back to where I belong, back to my comfort zone.
I’ll be honest. I sometimes look at authors who’ve published dozens of books in a variety of genres, and I question the authenticity of their stories. As a reader, I’m skeptical. I’m not sure I trust authors who attempt too many different things. I want to read stories written by authors who love what they write. I want to read mysteries by story-tellers who thrive on who-dun-its, and fantasies by imaginative authors who would never be “at home” in the mundane world. I want to read love stories by writers who would never want to write anything but love stories.
A couple old adages come to mind.
- Stay with what works.
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
You might disagree. Probably a lot of you will tell me I’m wrong, I’m crazy, or I’m stuck in a rut. That’s fine. My rut feels good, and I’m happily writing stories I love.
There’s a lot to be said for comfort. We crave “comfort foods”, and we’re always looking for those “creature comforts” that make life more enjoyable.
Sure, there are times when it’s probably good to shake things up and venture away from our comfort zones in life, but when it comes to writing, I’m going to make myself comfortable and tell stories that make me feel good. If I do that, and do it well, my readers will probably feel good, too.