It’s no big secret that I tend to write what I’m comfortable with.
I suspect that’s true for most writers out there. When we’re comfortable with a subject, well… The words come easily, the story flows, and the narrative is easy to get into too. The “Comfort Zone” isn’t always the easy zone (not by any means – because some stories don’t always flow so easily), it can be challenging and rewarding – but it is the place, the area of our creative minds, that we know we can work with.
But, stepping outside that zone…
Writing outside that zone, maybe touching on things that aren’t so easy… Yeah.
I’m a big advocate of “write what you know” and “write what you’re comfortable with” (because when you do both those things “you write with authority” blah blah blah) – that’s not to say I don’t believe writers shouldn’t stretch themselves. I think for us amateurs (and I am still very much an amateur), we need to build on our strengths – and we’re going to do that best in territory we know and are comfortable with.
My comfort area is romance. I hate admitting that, but it’s true. I’m a guy who likes (is comfortable) writing male-male romance fiction. Genre doesn’t matter, Western, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy… My heroes are always male, and always end up with a male partner/have a male love interest.
I have one (written) character I’m pretty sure is straight. I say pretty sure, because I’m still writing about him. I’ve thrown a female love interest at him. He seems to be interested. Go me.
But… That’s not really too far from my “Comfort Zone” – it’s still romance. The romance territory is pretty freaking huge – massive. Not boundless of course, but vast all the same. And weirdly? There are areas of it I’m frightened to go.
My “Comfort Zone” occupies a section of that vast immenseness – not all of it.
So how strange it is to take a step into unknown territory. How strange it is to step out of the known and into the unknown. How strange and oddly… Fun.
“Write what you know” and “write what you’re comfortable with” are two bits of very good advice. But you know what else is good advice? “Don’t be afraid to explore something new.”
So that’s what I’m doing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a romance writer at heart – although I have left clear instructions to my partner and friends on what to do if I ever go full blown Cartland – (I don’t think that’ll ever happen, but you have to play it safe). Romance… It’s still a massive territory/genre to play in, still a vast empire that interconnects with so many other genres and places – and not all of it’s in my comfort zone.
So maybe it’s time to explore…