Writing is hard. But it isn’t too hard.
It’s possible to succeed, starting from the bottom and working your way up … as long as you are willing to be uncomfortable.
Because the reality is, you’re not always going to get to write about what you know best. You’re not always going to be able to do things “your way.” You’re also not always going to be able to have fun every moment you’re writing.
Challenges are challenging for a reason; they’re meant to help you grow.
They’re uncomfortable because you’ve never been told being comfortable was a bad thing.
It’s not … all the time. You have to have fun and relax with your hands at the keyboard every now and then. But if you want to succeed as a writer — if you want to be among those who make a living doing something they genuinely enjoy — you’re going to have to get used to feeling tired. Stressed. Like you’re pushing yourself too far past an invisible line.
That invisible line is where your comfort zone ends and your writing career begins.
I have never once told an editor, “I’d rather write this, because it’s easier.” Part of succeeding as a writer is doing the things that are unfamiliar, those tasks that terrify you.
Deliberately doing things you’re not comfortable with can be stressful and scary. But once you do them, you’ll realize it’s just the way writing should be. You’re supposed to take risks. You’re supposed to be nervous. You’re supposed to say, “I’ve never written this way or about this thing before, but let’s just see how it goes.” What’s fun about doing the same thing at the same level over and over and over again?
I never let myself get comfortable. That’s why I keep writing. It’s still a challenge.
My heart still races every time I pitch a new idea to an editor.
I still feel disappointed when I receive negative feedback.
Sometimes, I still wonder if ‘going all out’ is worth the risk.
But I don’t let any of those things stop me from pitching and writing and experimenting anyway. And neither should you.
Learn to fear comfort. In writing, it almost always means you’re not doing the best you can. Being safe, choosing the ‘easier’ topic, ‘not wanting to offend anyone’ — those things won’t get you anywhere. I’m not saying you should always aim to publish something that reaches too far. But if you always tell yourself it’s not worth trying, you are never going to grow. You will always be the exact same writer you are right now — and you will fall behind everyone who is willing to improve and thrive.
It’s up to you to make the conscious choice to be in an almost constant state of discomfort. Yes, you’re allowed to relax, to have fun, to spend some time writing what makes you feel comfortable. But you’ll realize very quickly that it’s pretty boring back there. It’s much more thrilling to live among those who are willing to do what they normally wouldn’t to get better at what they’re already doing.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.