In “Self-Reliance” Ralph Waldo Emerson advised his readers not to get stuck in a rut. His advice? To force yourself out of your comfort zone because to his way of thinking one couldn’t possibly learn about himself unless faced with an uncomfortable situation.
I find that this applies to writing as well as life. Those familiar with my writing style know that I love to create dark characters in compromising positions. Most of them smoke. Some of them are serial killers. Nearly all fall into the “deeply disturbed” category. This is my comfort zone. Over the years I’ve written many a piece using just such characters. Hackneyed? Perhaps. Cliche? Most likely. Comfortable? Of course.
Recently I penned the beginning of a romance causing many in my writing group to wonder if I had come down with something. In a sense, I had. I finally figured out what my ailment was: Same Old, Same Old. It was time to write out of my comfort zone. It was time to introduce myself to some new characters and perhaps even lighter subject matter. And as hard as that piece was for me to write, I actually enjoyed it. It challenged me. I found I had an ability in a genre whose sunnier side I had never explored. And, best of all, I learned something about myself as a writer.
So in the spirit of Emerson and his Transcendentalist buddies, seek out those uncomfortable characters and and introduce yourself. Find those unexplored themes and start excavating. It is a great way to give your creative mind a kick-start.