Antics In The Forbidden Zone – Writing Outside of Your Comfort Level

Song of the day: Stand and Deliver – Adam Ant (from the Lp Antics In the Forbidden Zone)

Many seasoned writers proclaim the importance of writing out of your comfort zone. I was also taught this, many times over, in acting classes. The underlying reason is simple: If you can stretch your boundaries and find ways to improve upon that which you find to be awkward, you will (theoretically) discover new techniques that work for you, thus honing your craft. Makes sense, right?

It does, but it also poses the question: What if the subject matter takes readers out of their comfort zone, not just you?

As a writer and actor, I want to produce work people will actually read or sit through. Sometimes, no matter how good the performance, you can’t engage an audience because you are guiding their hand to an area they don’t want to touch. If the goal is not only to hone your craft, but also produce product, how much time do you spend if you fear no one will see/read it? The answer is subjective.

Currently, I’m on the defensive because I found comfort with a few taboo subjects. In fact, I became so comfortable that I wrote and published a full-length novel that includes one of them and am working on a second. Normally I’m all too happy to talk about my work at social gathering’s, but when people ask about your project, and it contains a subject that is so taboo it drives many to hate, how do you approach it? Do you go full steam ahead and act like it is no big deal, even if you see them sweat? Do you dodge the subject and bring up other aspects of the book, thus creating a false impression? Do you site other projects that they will have heard of as a way to prove the value?

Here is what I have come to learn to say when asked about Love’s Forbidden Flower:
“I took myself out of my comfort zone. I read something and thought I could do better at tackling a tough subject. Once I delved in and started researching real-life scenarios, some of the stories stole my compassion. Then I researched statistics and found how common something so forbidden is. I then asked myself why I had the biases I do about what is right and wrong. I challenged myself to jump into another person’s shoes, and I am a stronger and better person for it.”

What lies in your discomfort zone? Are you willing to write about it, read about it, spend hours researching it to question why it feels wrong and strive to find compassion? I did, and I have to tell you my heart will never be the same.

I dare you. I absolutely dare you to go outside of your comfort zone and search for understanding. And if you don’t find compassion, that’s fine. However, by challenging yourself to see something in a new light, you’re changing the world, one tiny step at a time.

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