A to Z Challenge 2013

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Opportunity - Stepping Outside The Writing Circle

My 16 year old was sitting around Friday afternoon when his friend texted him and asked if he wanted to go to the mountains.  His first reaction was to say no, but it was mostly because he was occupied with playing a video game.  I poked and prodded him into going anyway though, because it turned out that his friend was going to be helping a grandma with burro races.  Yes, you read that right.  In the Colorado mountains, they hold lama and burro racing annually, for 13 and 26 miles respectively.

In any event, it was an entirely new experience for him and (despite sunburns) he had a great time.  He got up around 8 a.m., went down to the race grounds, and opened gates for the racers.  This continued over the course of three days, and by the time my son came home, he was beat.  But he had a smile on his face and stories to tell.

I thought about how happy I was to have forced my son to go because he had such a good time and got to experience something he would otherwise never have seen.  For one thing, I doubt he had ever seen a lama up close before, let alone seeing them racing.  There is also something great to be said about being away from your parents and hanging out with your friends.  While we missed him a bunch, this is the stuff memories are made of.  He'll hopefully not forget this anytime soon.

Tonight I was thinking over it again, and I realized how similar this situation is to writing.  We sit down every time to write and take ourselves down familiar paths.  Sure, we're writing different stories but how different are they?  Looking at my own writing, I can see places I haven't gone.  I have never challenged myself with romance, for example.  I've never written a western.  But I can envision how attempting such projects would help me become a better writer, even if it's nothing more than an exercise.

I'm going to try to do this more often, write something that is outside of my comfort zone.  A small romantic scene, a gunfight at the O.K. Corral, or maybe a steampunk adventure.  Something new and challenging.  When was the last time you wrote something like that?  Were you glad you stepped outside the comfort circle?


Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Great idea. I usually stay in my comfort zone, but you're right, we should switch it up from time to time. I'll give it a shot. ;)

J.L. Stratton said...

In the past I liked to write science fiction and thriller/suspense. But recently, I had written a crime/amateur sleuth story and was told that I really needed to build on the romantic thread. This person told me that they would have liked to see a steamy love scene or two between my main character and her love interest.

This led to writing some romance-ish stories and then some erotica. I'm now working on an erotic romance crime suspense story. I just love the idea of bending across multiple genres.

I am so far out of my comfort zone, I'm not even sure how to find my way back - and I'm loving the experience.

DEZMOND said...

you live in Colorado??? You know that's a heaven to me, the winter-obsessed person :)

WindyA said...

I'm in the midst of stepping out of my comfort zone right now!

I have always written YA contemporary ... and right now I have 2 wips, 1 a YA paranormal, 1 a YA urban fantasy, that are fighting my attention away from what I know and it is really hard not to automatically shy away from it!

But it's all about growing as a writer and I'm totally down for that!

Eric said...

Karen - That's cool. Let us know how it goes when you do step outside that zone.

J.L. - Wow, you really are expanding your zone. You're a much braver person than I am.

Dezmond - Yep, I live in chilly Colorado (at least in the winter). I'm planning on moving to Arizona when the kids are out of school. I'm like a lizard; I need to sit out on a rock and soak up the sun as often as possible.

Windy - Heh heh, I know what you mean about shying away. That's how I feel about romance. I am not even sure how well I could describe a romantic scene. Someday I'm going to try it though.

DEZMOND said...

maybe we should exchange houses :) You come here to Vojvodina where we had 104F degrees last week, while I go to Colorado and to the snow kingdom :)

Eric said...

Dezmond - No thanks. For one thing, I had to look up where that is LOL. Sorry, but nothing could get me to permanently live anywhere outside the US. I've been abroad and yet I love living here.

Glynis said...

What a great thing to watch, good on you for making your son go.

102f here in Cyprus you can keep the snow. I had rain and grey skies 24/7 in the UK, do not miss that I can tell you. :)

Writing outside my comfort zone: I tried first person, and will go with it one day. It was not as painful as I had imagined.

PS: Glad you enjoyed Kate Winslet, what a voice!

Eric said...

Glynis - See, I don't WANT to keep the snow LOL (hence the reason I need to move to Arizona). I haven't done a really good attempt at first person though. I half-heartedly tried it once, but I don't think it's my bag. And yeah, thanks for sharing those Kate bits.