Stepping outside your comfort zone (I wrote a book!)

For many years I have been a tame nerd in a room full of talented, creative professionals. As a freelance developer working with ad agencies (Leo Burnett), and Web and TV productions (rushTV, Big Brother, Secret Life of Us and others) I was surrounded by people who could, seemingly, effortlessly produce elegant prose.

Working with some great speakers and technology-centric writers at both Microsoft and Amazon I was exposed to different creative skill-sets, but I still always thought of myself as “technical” and not doing that creative stuff. Yes, I’d probably argue there’s a strong mix of art in the science of developing, and more so as an Evangelist, but it’s still hard to make the mindset switch.

This New Year I didn’t want to do the clichéd New Years Resolution thing, but I did want to do something outside my comfort zone and for years I’d had the first line of a story in my head…

I had the first line, but I’d never done anything with it. Fear was a huge hurdle: I’d never written a book; I didn’t know where to start; how to create a story arc; how to write believable and likable characters; and the killer… how to not make it suck!

I persevered. I struggled. I gave up, and then refused to admit defeat. I hated everything I’d written. I refined and revised a phrase until it made no sense to me.

Then I let my daughter read it. I had after all written what I thought of as a Young Adult Science Fiction novella. Would she like it? Would she hate it? Would she even read as far as the second page…

I got back from her a carefully marked up manuscript. Typos, grammatical clumsiness, transpositions, suggestions for places needing more explanation to help the audience. She even spotted a place where my character while sleeping was supposed to be doing something. But… she didn’t hate it.

I made corrections. I tweaked some more. Then came the big moment. Did I have the courage to actually publish it and show my friends, colleagues, people I respected and wanted to respect me, what I had written? The fear and trepidation rolled back in. How would I cope with them, as well as total strangers, judging what I’d written, and by extension me?

Well… I’d set out to do something outside my comfort zone and, just like jumping off cliffs into the ocean when I was younger… it was time to make the leap.

So, I hit “publish” on Amazon and now… now, I wait to see how people react. Whatever the outcome I know I’ve achieved something new, something that has challenged and pushed me. Something that I hope has improved my skills as a writer, and given me the courage to attempt more things that are outside my comfort zone.

If you’re interested in what I’ve written, you can have a look here at Tuesday Tales: Falling. If you’re a lucky visitor on a random Tuesday it will be free (I’m going to mess around with pricing to see what works). Comments, and reviews, welcome.

And… if I can do it… so can you.

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