If you want the short version of this entry, here you go. There are dozens of variants on this image, but I went with this one because it's pretty.
Like most things in life, however, it's not that simple, which is why it gets a blog entry.
I wondered if writing an entry about getting out of your comfort zone would be hypocritical on my part. Didn't I just finish a book starring two characters I've had in my head since 2002? Am I not really, really used to writing the two of them by now? Aren't they my writerly equivalent of a pair of boots so well-worn that I don't even need to undo the laces to pull them on?
The answers to those questions are Yes, Mostly, and No. Because while I've written Shiloh and Alexi a great deal, I'm not always writing them as the same people.
All the previous S&A stories have dealt with the two of them growing closer over the book's course, with them together at the end. In the new book, the two of them get their Relationship Upgrade very early on, due to knowing each other years before. The story itself also deals with merchant house politics and policies, something that's new to me, as well as with Alexi enforcing the word of her peoples' goddess, which brought about a side of her I've never seen before.
I had to step away from who I've known these characters to be, and find out who they were under the new circumstances, to write this book. And they'll only grow more when I start editing. It was very strange at times, because I didn't go into the book knowing they would be so different.
But I had to go with it, I had to step out of that comfort zone, if I wanted to tell the story. And it's a better story for that.
Then there's the book I started writing two days ago, which is already insane and has characters questioning what's going on and features several different impossibilities in the first chapter and will only get weirder as it goes. The entire thing is an homage to two of my favorite pieces of fiction, but it's an enormous mind screw that will only make sense at the end (if ever!), taking place in an entirely new setting with characters I've never written before who didn't even exist in my head until I plotted this particular book.
As much as I know I shouldn't even be thinking about this right now, odds are good that this is a book that will never, ever sell. (Even if I already know what I want the cover to look like.) But I'm writing it because it's something completely different, because I want to, and because I know if I don't, I'll regret it.
And I would much rather spend months writing and editing a book that goes nowhere than sit back and wonder if it could have been something magical.
So that's my advice this month, fellow IWSGers. Kick your way out of your comfort zone, as it does you no good. Pull up that project that seemed too crazy. You know the one - I'm guessing you came up with it either late at night or when you were supposed to be doing your day job. Figure out how to make it work, and get to it.
You won't find magic doing the same old thing.