Monday, December 2, 2013

Getting out of my comfort zone

You know, nothing has taught me so much about me as a writer as signing that publishing contract.

I know, weird, eh?

I mean, I'm a writer pure and simple, so publishing shouldn't really have an influence on me being one. Yet it does, I think in a good way.

See, when I signed the contract, I created an obligation towards my publishing house, which means that the book I promised  them has to be a priority for me in ways none of my other books are.

Which means that if they need that book to be revised during NaNo, that book has to be revised. No buts, ifs, or whys. And that's where I'm learning now.

Before, I could say that I couldn't combine drafting with editing, because it takes time for my mind to switch gears. True as it is, I couldn't just say that in November. I had to get some drafting done because I'm trying to create a "production line" of sorts, and I don't think I'll get another chance to draft before February/March next year. December's for editing Birds vs. Bastards. 

So that made complete sense until my editor let me know that I needed to get my book in by end November. With saying no and not drafting both not being options, I said yes and found a way to make it work.

Turns out that once you're writing fit (as I am nowadays), switching gears really isn't that hard. So I did those revisions in about two weeks and got right back to drafting, and I even won NaNo.

If I hadn't had the book under contract, I would never even have tried to work like that. To me, thou shalt not edit and draft at the same time was one big rule to my writing method. Being under contract pushed me beyond my self-imposed comfort zone, into a place where I can be even more efficient as a writer.

Which is great really, since it makes my five year goal that much more achievable.

So today I  want to say: Don't get stuck in a comfort zone. Find ways to push yourself gently, but firmly into places where you can grow as a writer. Even if it means writing something you'd never thought you'd write. Or changing up when or how you write. Sometimes those changes might be exactly what you need to get to the next level.

Have you pushed yourself as a writer lately? What did you do and how did it turn out?

33 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Publisher deadlines change everything.
I'm getting ready to push myself in a big way. Blogging about it for the IWSG on Wednesday.

Julie Flanders said...

This is so true. At first I freaked out about publisher deadlines but now I realize that aspect has been great for me. They force me to stop procrastinating.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You learn how to cope. I discovered I could write fiction and non-fiction at the same time, and those really require a different mindset.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Just stretching your skills to improve your effectiveness and writing and productivity to meet deadlines. Nothing wrong with that.

Kelly Hashway said...

I once had to draft a book that was sold as a pre-empt before I wrote a word and revise two books under contract at the same time. Craziest time of my life, but I did it. It's amazing what we can do when we have to. ;)

Karen Walker said...

Congrats to all of the above, Misha. I am continually stretching myself out of my comfort zone, both as a writer, and in regular life. Particularly with my singing. I don't think I have anything like a comfort zone anymore.

SA Larsenッ said...

Gosh, it takes my mind time to switch gears, too. I recently was asked to write for a YA anthology, which had a deadline. I was excited and accepted. But I also needed to finish up my MG novel to send to my agent. So, yeah, I'm beginning to understand the angst of a deadline other than one that is self-induced.

Bish Denham said...

Wow, good for you, Misha! I'm sure it took focus and dedication to get both things do.

Emma Adams said...

I wanted to win NaNo this year, but I knew my editorial letter from my publishers was coming in November and that had to come first. It's definitely been challenging juggling projects, but I'm glad I did it!

Quanie Miller said...

I think you wrote this just for me. I do need to get out of my comfort zone, shake things up, and surprise myself. Thanks so much for sharing this. I needed it!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Good for you for winning Nano and for stepping out of your comfort zone. It's hard for me to step out of my comfort zone, though I know I should do it more often. I'm the kind of person who always orders the same thing when I go to restaurants.

S.P. Bowers said...

It's so true. You never know what you're capable of until you try. I do like my little rut, so I'm grateful for things that push me out of it. Well, in the end I'm grateful. Initially I grumble and complain a bit. :)

Connie Keller said...

You are so right. There's nothing like being forced to do something to find a way to do it. This past year I drafted one book and edited another at the same time. And to my great surprise, I really enjoyed it.

Angela Brown said...

It's amazing what you find you can do when a deadline looms near. With practice, you can learn to switch gears rather quickly as I've been learning to do while practicing writing in a different genre.

Elise Fallson said...

Wow. You did all that and still won NaNo! Awesome. I'm someone who is more productive when under pressure, so I can understand what you mean with the pressure of a publishing house being a writing boost. Which reminds me, I need to set myself some deadlines, I've been in a writing funk lately...

Julie Luek said...

I love that you're learning from all this experience and so generous in sharing. Thanks.

shelly said...

Since my computer has died, I've been challenged to write on my iPhone.

Robin said...

I have been an extremely lazy writer. I need a kick in the pants big-time.

M Pax said...

Deadlines are marvelous for motivation. I wrote all of mine on my dry erase board last week. Kicked my fingers into gear.

Kimberly said...

I haven't pushed myself too much lately, but I need to. I've had a couple of story ideas that are totally different than what I normally write and one of them has been bugging me to write it because I can't stop thinking about it. :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Misha,


WOW, I am impressed. You finished and won NaNo AND your writing obligations. I am so PROUD of you. You have come such a long way! I remember, years ago when we both first started blogging with all our hopes and dreams and NOW yours are well on their way! I could't be happier for you!

Murees Dupé said...

I am happy that you could make this big transition. You pushed on when it seemed impossible and that is inspiring. I know i need to push myself more.

Annalisa Crawford said...

You've made the switch from wannabe to professional writer! It feels good, doesn't it? Until you need to make it work, you can't possibly see how it would, and now you probably can't believe you never worked like that before :-)

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Misha. Great post.

Laura said...

This is great advice, having a set deadline really helps motivate me to get stuff done. That's why I love NaNo so much.

cleemckenzie said...

You're so right. Signing on that line makes a huge difference in your writing life.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! That's an amazing amount of work to accomplish in one month! You rock!
And you are so right.
I think, as a self-pubbed author with my own publishing company name (Wings of Light), I might just have to write myself a business letter with a deadline. It sounds kind of crazy, but it might work to motivate me to finish my revisions.

Sharon Bradshaw said...

Congratulations on all you've achieved, Misha. I've really enjoyed reading this post and all the comments. I'm pushing myself at the moment to edit my novel and write poetry on the same day. Previously I would alternate these activities every few days, but the new plan seems to be working fine and I guess now I shouldn't have left it so long to try. It's all about words on the page and publication.

klahanie said...

Hi Misha,

When a comfort zone becomes an uncomfortable comfort zone, it's time to make choices. This you have done and trying different genres certainly works. Challenge yourself in ways as a human being. It's all part of the writing inspiration.

Well done, Misha.

Gary :)

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Yes, it's silly to get stuck in hard-and-fast rules like don't draft and edit. That never made sense to me. May work for some under certain circumstances, but I think we're asking for trouble when we believe we need to follow broad-based shoulds/shouldn'ts. CONGRATS on finishing NaNo AND progressing on your writing projects. That's a huge accomplishment.

xoRobyn

Tanya Miranda said...

Nothing like getting pushed into the pool to learn to swim. :-)

I tend to start a new draft of something almost as soon as I start editing a current WIP. Maybe a short, poem, or another novel - they feel like breaks since editing can sometimes get tedious. I mean, how many times have you read a paragraph over and over and know it needs work but just can't seem to click on the editing juices? Kind of like Editor's Block. Finishing a short story, outlining a novel, or starting the first few chapters is like taking a hot shower. Then I go back and feel refreshed, ready to continue editing.

Mina Burrows said...

Love this. And it's so true. I was just talking about the comfort zone topic the other day with some friends. I have a tendency to draft and edit at times. Can't help it! Crap!

Katie Cross said...

I love getting out of my comfort zone in writing, but it is often scary. Now I want to go back and rethink what my current zone is, and what I can do to move out of it for a little bit.

Thanks for the great thoughts, and the great site! Can't wait to read more.