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Why you should leave your comfort zone…

December 15, 2014

I’m usually what’s called a pantser (someone who just sits down and writes with no idea of where the story will go). When I decided to write a novel for NaNo last month, I realized there were a lot of problems with that method for me. One, I usually have zero idea of what I am going to write. This leads me to spend the first week of the challenge pouring over writing prompts to see what might come to me. I then end up having nothing done for the first week and get stuck a lot, so it’s a struggle to keep up. Worse yet, I usually end up finishing the story well before 50K and have to find something else to write to complete the challenge.

This year, I decided I was going to come in prepared. I got an idea after seeing a commercial and sat down to write an outline. It was a scary, yet liberating experience for me to try doing something outside of my norm. And you know what? It worked. I ended up having enough material in my outline to have a full novel and I was never stuck struggling for what to do with the story.

It was a similar experience when I tried handwriting. I prefer typing and did it almost exclusively until this year. I decided to try writing a couple of shorts by hand and liked the process. I don’t think I’ll do it for a full novel (the idea of typing up a hundred some pages makes me weep), but it was nice to do for shorter stuff to stretch myself a little. I’ve also been writing in different places every so often, which helps to get my muse going,

Another way I shook things up was with my editing process. As I mentioned, I pretty much type everything. Doing so usually means that I edit on the computer as well (track changes is incredible, by the way). Recently, I printed out a couple of works and tackled editing the old-fashioned way: with what I call a red pen of doom  This was another great experience because I found I was able to catch things I might have missed on the screen, especially when my eyes are burning and begging for mercy.

As you can see from this, changing things up was a huge help in my process so if you’re struggling at the moment I would like to issue a challenge. If you’re a pantser like me and are struggling with getting a book off the ground, try outlining a piece. If you usually type and edit on a computer, do a short piece with pen and paper. If you usually work at home, head out to a library or coffee shop and see how it helps spark your own muse. You might even try dabbling in a genre you don’t usually write. Whatever you do, have fun with it!

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