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We all have comfort zones.

Places we feel safe and secure, things that we know and are happy doing because we’re used to them. They’re familiar and we can engage in them without thinking. Perhaps it’s cooking or driving or listening to your favourite band? Perhaps you love to dance or sing or any one of a million other things. We all have a comfort one when it comes to certain tasks that we engage in.

For writers that comfort zone could be the style we write in, or the tense we use or the genre that we engage in.

I know I have my own particular comfort zones when it comes to my writing. Example?

My short stories are always written in the first person – I noticed this a while ago. I’m not really sure why but it seems natural to me. Perhaps on some level I feel that it gives the reader a more intimate personal connection with the story? They can imagine themselves as the narrator. Whatever the subconcious reason, every singler short story I’ve ever written is in first person.

My other particular comfort zone when it comes to my writing is my genres of choice – Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi – I tend to write about the fantastic, the improbable, things that are beyond the normal boundaries opf everyday life. I guess I just like using my imagination.

Last night someone challenged me.

She asked me to write something very specific in a genre that is so far beyond what I do it could be another planet. Even the subject matter was something I’ve never, ever considered writing about.

So I accepted the challenge and produced a couple of thousand words – a short story, written in third person, about a subject tha was unfamiliar to me. It was scary and liberating at the same time. The finished piece was a little rough in places but it hit the right tone and was everything I’d been challenged to write. It needs a second brush, but in its entirety is a pretty decent read.

I enjoyed the challenge and it felt good to be able to write about this unfamiliar subject, to produce something that still demonstrated my skill as a writer. I guess the point here is that sometimes I think we all need to have a go at something different. It may feel scary at first but teh rewards of succeeding far outweigh the possibility of failure. And so what if it doesn’t work out? At least you tried right? And honestly, I’d rather try something new and fail spectacularly than continue trundling along, stuck in the same old stagnating rut.

So go for it.Challenge yourself. Try something new.

It may turn out to be junk, but then again…what if it’s solid gold?