Get Creative By Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

get creative

Get creative by getting out of your comfort zone.

How comfortable are you with your writing?

Many writers specialize in a genre or niche. Creative writers are focused on fiction or poetry, copywriters specialize in marketing, and technical writers are bound by jargon and code that other writers might find impossible to decipher.

Sure, some of us explore various types of writing, but how deeply are we willing to immerse ourselves into unfamiliar waters?

A novelist might dip her toes in copywriting. A copywriter might wade in children’s literature. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dive into a completely new form of writing or what it would be like to explore a form you’ve only tested? Are you willing to challenge yourself and get creative by trying something new?

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone


I’ve tried my hand at many different types of writing. I am an experienced poet and storyteller. I get paid to write articles, website copy, and posts. I’ve written and published fiction and nonfiction books.

I’ve found that writing in different forms and genres makes my writing better in other forms and genres. My experience with writing poetry improves my fiction; my experience with fiction writing and storytelling strengthens my copywriting. I’ve also found that experimenting with different forms and genres helps me get creative and stay creative.

When we lodge ourselves inside a comfort zone, our work can become stale or feel formulaic. That why it’s beneficial to read and write a little bit of everything. The techniques we develop for one form carry over to another and make it richer.

Get Creative

Below, you’ll find a few activities that will prompt you to explore unfamiliar territory in your writing. Choose a type of writing that you’ve never attempted before or choose something you’ve only toyed with. Pick a form or genre that you’ve struggled with in the past. Just pick something that you haven’t mastered and then dive in.

It doesn’t take long:

  • Write a piece of flash fiction under 1000 words
  • Write a 250-word poem
  • Write a brief, 2000-word topical essay
  • Compose a newspaper column
  • Write three pages of a script

If you turn off the TV, unplug your video games, and close your web browser, you could probably do all of these in a single weekend.

What are you waiting for? Get out of your comfort zone and get creative. Now go start writing!

101 creative writing exercises

 

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

18 Responses to “Get Creative By Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”

  1. Brett Legree says:

    (Hey, that’s a nice foot. What? No, just because I wear funny shoes doesn’t mean I have a foot fetish… I just wouldn’t mind walking on the beach right now!)

    I still need to make my character for the game (this weekend), and then I can add it to my other writing projects. I’ve also started some fiction myself (not sure if I mentioned to anyone yet), so I’ve got a non-fiction, some fiction, some humour stuff on the way, an e-book… just need a publisher!

    Oprah! Oh, Oprah! I’m over here!!!

    -Brett

  2. Friar says:

    Melissa

    I’m fairly new to blogging. I’m still trying to discover “who I am”. I have a pretty good idea, but I’m still experimenting all over the place.

    I recently tried something different…taking a break from my more sillier posts, I wrote a short story about my trout fishing. It wasn’t meant to be funny.

    It was totally out of character with the rest of my blog, but this post received the greatest response so far.

    Go figure (???).

    It was very encouraging. It makes me want to try and write some more serious stories.

    Friars last blog post..Five Flats in Eighteen Days

  3. Friar says:

    @Brett

    What are you doing on Melissa’s blog right now? (And for that matter, what am I doing here?)

    Shouldn’t we both be WORKING right now? πŸ™‚

    Friars last blog post..Five Flats in Eighteen Days

  4. --Deb says:

    I love coming up with plots. I love pulling all the pieces of a story together and making them weave and twist and make something totally my own.

    Besides, it makes me feel creative but also like I’m in on a secret–I know all the answers about what’s going on with my characters. It’s like being the first to know the ending of a movie, so that other people can whisper, “What happens next? Is she going to die?” and I can just smile knowingly and say, “Wait and see.”

    –Debs last blog post..MM: Period

  5. @Brett, Walking on the beach sounds awesome right now! I can’t wait till you join the game, and Oprah is going to LOVE you!

    @Friar, I’ve had a similar experience where I write a post that’s significantly different from my usual fare and surprisingly get a huge response. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve written a really great piece and there’s almost no reaction. Other times, I throw something together last minute and the response is overwhelming. Go figure indeed! And who works on a Friday? πŸ˜‰ (me!) I’m sure Brett was just taking a break… heheh.

    @Deb (Punctuality), Yes, I can relate to that. I have come up with some plots that made me feel the same way, but for some reason, I always abandon them. Maybe they are not as bad as I thought, or perhaps I just got tired of them. In any case, I’m hoping to work through it. When do we get to see some of your fiction???

  6. Friar says:

    @Melissa

    I hear ya! The posts where I’ve tried to be insightful, into which I’ve put in a lot of thought have had luke-warm responses.

    On the other hand, I show a photo of myself jumping in ice water which took 2 minutes to write (downloading the photo took more time). And it was one of my biggest hits.

    It’s a crap shoot, I guess.

    But I’m having fun trying to figure out what people like to read.

    Friars last blog post..A Break from the Cube Farm…

  7. @Friar, It’s definitely a crap shoot. But that’s part of the fun, I think.

  8. Michele says:

    Me too, Melissa! I need to focus. I’m pretty easily distracted with those newer, better ideas you’re talking about. πŸ™‚

    Micheles last blog post..Guest Post – Motivation to Write: Is There a Magic Formula?

  9. Greer says:

    It’s funny, I read this post and then thought about it for a few days and decided that my biggest weakness is that I don’t finish things because I think of something else to write instead. Then I came back to write about it and I see that others have the same problem :-).

    So I’m wondering Melissa (and others), do you think it’s worth it to just push through and try to finish something that you’ve kinda lost interest in- just for the sake of finishing something? It seems like it would probably ‘build character’, but it would also be tough!

    I will say that when I go through old notebooks with abandoned stories or whatever, I’m sometimes a little amazed at what I wrote and wished I’d finished it… so maybe that is my answer- whether I like it or not!

    Greers last blog post..Contrast Podcast- 2008 (so far)

  10. @Greer, I wish I had the answer to your question. If I did, I would probably have completed a novel by now!

    I do think it would help to push through. I tend to drift away from projects not because they bore me, but because a newer idea has captured my attention. I think it could help to store the new ideas in a notebook or journal and stay focused on the first idea. Also, setting goals and establishing a schedule might be helpful. For example, “I will write one chapter a week.”

    I’m the same way when I go through old notebooks. My reaction is usually either “This is horrible, what was I thinking?” or “Damn! Did I really write that? It’s pretty good!”

  11. Deb says:

    (The other Deb, here.) Okay, so little time to much to say. Hmm, I’ll have to come back for a part 2. Anyway. I hope you do NaNo and don’t over think it. You will love it, you will hate it, you will curse it; but you will finish it. The thing I got out of it that has been most useful every day is that I can sit down and start writing more quickly. I started with no plot and never did name my characters; I used the initials MMC and MFC etc, and just knocked it out. I started with cards that prompted “a person,” “what happened,” and “an observation.” It was essentially Birdie Jaworski’s 3 index cards from “Words in a Row.”

    More Later.

  12. Anna says:

    I was just reading your blog about fiction-writing and felt a lot of your comments rang true for me too. I have dabbled in writing, mainly as a journalist, now as a part-time web content writer for a few years, and always felt fiction too difficult to write. However, for some people there imagination is overflowing with ideas, but for others you perhaps need to feed it with research of your own. You may follow a similar story line, but write totally originally. And from what other successful writers have said, a lot of them draw from their own experiences or those of others and adapt them to the story. In journalism typically you’re never short of information, so it’s easy to write about something. I think you need to do a lot more research about the kind of subjects you want to write about, and then I’m sure you’re book will be finished in no time at all.

  13. @Deb (gscottage), I’m definitely looking forward to NaNoWriMo! It’s not for four months but I have a feeling it will sneak up and be here before we know it!

    @Anna, Yes, I think fiction is far more difficult than nonfiction because you can’t rely 100% on facts. Research may be involved but there’s also a lot of imagination at work. It takes commitment and dedication, especially when writing a novel as opposed to a short piece. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  14. Deb says:

    (the other Deb) I found the disconnects that arise in fiction the most frustrating thing. Where I started typing ended up becoming chapter five (I think) and the parts that percolated up that that chapter needed to have established as “facts in text” didn’t align the first couple of attempts thus the shift from chapter one to five. But hey, words on the page are words on the page when you’re doing NaNo.

    One thing I had heard in an NPR interview with a writer-editor was that fiction writing is not about putting down what happened the “way it happened” because that will not feel real and nobody will believe it. I think it has to do with our monoptic (?) perspective because I had passages where I was drawing on a personal experience that felt very plastic until I assimilated the other person’s role and began to imagine things they might have debated with themselves or alternate choices they might have been forced to select from among and so forth.

    And that was hard because the character became a fallible human instead of the cold stone statue that survival had rationalized. Hmm, maybe it is time to print it out and read it from beginning to end; just a thought for now.

  15. @Deb (gscottage), It sounds like you learned a lot about your own writing from NaNo. I hope to do the same this year. One thing you said that I completely agree with is that you don’t write things “the way it happened.” I think the same is true in movies. There are tricks to making it real without adhering 100% to reality, and that’s part of the fun!

  16. Deb says:

    One other thing; find a NaNo forum community you can trust and be real with. NaNo would not have been possible without our weird, wacky, and downright hilarious group of women over 30. Jokes about knitted turkey hats (Google it) at 2am ET and name that 50/60/70’s tune. Okay, I’m in hysterics still after all these months. But I was the slowest typist and they all logged on and posted 30 minute prompts for 4 hours until my purple bar popped up with 90 minutes to go. And we formed a LiveJournal community where about half of us still hang out.

  17. Friar says:

    Melissa

    I took your advice and stepped out of my normal boundaries.

    I’m normally a smart-ass, and when I write, I like to parody and make fun of everything. But this time, I wrote a more serious and sad story.

    I didn’t know what kind of response to expect. I never wrote anything like this before. But I was suprised to see all kinds of postive feedback.

    Now I’ve discovered a whole “different” kind of writing that I can start exploring, and it excites me. I never realized I could do this before.

    Thanks for the tip, to help get me started.

    – Friar

    Friars last blog post..The Dog Nobody Wanted

  18. @Deb (gscottage), Yes, I imagine that it would be helpful to have a solid support system while doing NaNo – some folks to help keep you on your toes πŸ˜‰

    @Friar, You’re a smartass? No! I never would have guessed! It’s fun to explore the many sides of oneself as a writer. You never know what you’re going to get πŸ˜‰