Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Good morning Bookaholics and my fellow writers. I've been thinking a lot lately about taking a step out of your comfort zone. I've always been an adventurous person. This led me to joining both the Royal Navy and the Army, and I've travelled all over the world. I definitely took a step out of my comfort zone when I moved back to Scotland and took up writing full time. I'm definitely a grab life by the horns and make the most of every minute type of girl. 

However, when it comes to reading I had settled into a steady diet of crime books. Don't get me wrong, I love crime books, and read widely within that genre. Not only do I read every sub genre of crime I also read books by authors local, national and international. Great stuff but a little limiting for an author. This is what got me thinking about stepping outside my comfort zone. All the advice for writers is that they should read widely, both in and out of their chosen genre. So that is what I have decided to do. Never one to be phased by a challenge I have chosen a couple of books to get me started. The first is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The second is The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


As you can see I don't do things by half. If you want to know more about either of these books you can take a look by clicking on the image. My interest in The Goldfinch came about by my seeing the painting in The National Galleries in Edinburgh. It was on loan from the museum in The Netherlands and as I was there for a meeting I dropped in to have a look. I then bought the book from the gift shop  and left with a souvenir and new reading material. The Miniaturist was bought because I'd heard good things about it and the cover took my fancy. Yes, the cover really is important.

One other way in which I am trying to step out of my comfort zone is by writing short stories. I am not a natural short story writer but I have had some published in anthologies. As the chair of Angus Writers Circle I set a writing exercise each time we meet. Members take this home and write a 500 word piece of prose or a 40 line poem based on the the theme. As a member this encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and develop my writing further. 

Reading a wide variety of genres can also help you as a writer. It helps to open your mind to new ideas and gives your brain space to think. It can also help you to develop a richness of language by exposing you to new words and phrases and new ways of expressing yourself. It can also serve to broaden the book you are writing and make certain aspects more authentic. Let me give you an example. I am a crime writer but to make my book realistic I need to address the real lives of the main characters. There are elements of romance. I feel I cannot make these scenes realistic without reading some romance books. 

My challenge to you today, whether you are a reader or a writer, is to do something different. How can you step out of your comfort zone and in what ways will it change you?

Have a great week Bookaholics. Go and find a book you wouldn't normally choose, grab yourself a drink, curl up in your favourite chair and settle down to enjoy your book. If you are reading something different share in the comments and we might all discover some great new books. See you all back here soon. 

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