August 1st, 2012 by J.A. Pitts
Comfort Zone

As a writer and a human being, I find myself wanting to fall back to the safe place.  Going outside my highly regulated and conditioned world is not something I do very often.  Let’s face it.  There’s monsters out there.  I think we fall into two major categories as people — Risk Takers, those who crave the unknown and Wardens, those who want to make sure home is safe and secure.  I fall into the second category in most circumstances.  I love my routines.  I’ll eat the exact same meal from the exact same restaurant served by the exact same staff over and over and be happy as a clam.  I love the routine of going to work in the morning, coming home in the afternoon, having dinner with my family, kicking back with a good book, my writing, a quick game, etc.

Oh, there’s house work and car pools, but in general it’s the quiet life for me.

But as a writer, I have to dare to be bold.  I have to look for those places where I’m complacent and poke at the weak spots.  I have to challenge myself to take greater risks, do grander things.  I have to build worlds so far from mundane that you the reader will want to lose yourself among the warriors and robots for a little while, until it’s time for you to fall back into your routines.

I saw this Venn diagram recently and it makes me think of how I approach the various aspects of my life.  For my day job, I’m a risk taker.  I push the boundries and take chances.  I know the risk/reward system very well after several decades in the working population.  It’s vibrant and real.  I understand (mostly) how things work.  I can’t abide or account for the politics involved, but I can even navigate those waters.

The writing, however, is a different world.  There are so many aspects to a writing career.  Daring to write exciting and emotional novels is one thing.  Learning to put yourself out there like in blogging and marketing is a totally bizarre and foreign thing to me.

This week I took a step totally outside my comfort zone.  Really it was a few weeks ago, but the podcast just went live last Friday.  I was interviewed by this awesome podcast out of LA called Between the Sheets.  It’s totally not safe for work or small children.

This podcast features five women who are totally okay with who they are and are not afraid to talk about anything that comes into their minds. It’s both terrifying and liberating.  I think I hold my own in the interview but these women have no problem overlapping their comfort zone with that place where the magic happens.

That’s what I’m striving for in my work, my writing and my life as a whole.  I took a risk, put myself someplace I thought I’d never go, and I think I’m a much better person for having played in someone else’s playground for a while.

So, you have to ask yourself, are you playing it too safe?  Are there things you could do to shake things up?  What fear is holding you back?

I’ve been invited back to join the Between the Sheets folks anytime I can make it down to LA.  Being with them live would be awesome.  I don’t think it’s possible to die from embarrassment, but I’m sure I could exceed expectations.  I look forward to reaching new audiences, trying new things, exploring avenues I’ve never known, or been afraid to try.  Who knows where it could lead?

Oh, and I drew that Venn diagram on my whiteboard in my cubicle at work.  After a few days I came back to find someone wrote on the board that I was their hero.  You never know when you are going to inspire someone else to take a chance.

I think I’m ready for a bit of adventure.  This may be addicting.

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