Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Okay to be Uncomfortable

Normally, we all strive for comfort: a comfortable home, comfortable clothes, comfortable car, comfortable living. So, it might sound strange when I say it's okay to be uncomfortable. In fact, it is often a very good thing.

When we get comfortable, we tend to get into a routine. Routines are wonderful; but that comfortable routine can also mean same-old-same-old. When we break out of our routine and do something different unexpected things can happen. Good things.

Two friends of mine, who both happen to be male and writers of horror, recently wrote stories with elements of erotica in them. In one case, the erotic scenes are not the sole focus of the story and are balanced quite nicely by the horror and violence also present. In the other, the eroticism is central to the theme of the story. In writing these stories, these writers have ventured into new territory. In both cases, they were more than a little nervous about how they were portraying acts of the most personal nature--sexual acts. In being outside their comfort zone, they crafted their words with extra care. That care is evident in the overall quality of their work.

Any artist can improve their work, regardless of their medium or preferred subject, by stepping out of their comfort zone. This could be anything different from what is the norm for you. If you are a spinner, try a different fiber. If you are a portrait photographer who works in a studio, try some nature photography out in the great wide world. If, like my friends, you are a writer, try whatever it is that makes you uncomfortable. For some this might be erotica. For others, the horrific elements that my friends usually write might be what you need to try.

Color pallets, styles, subject matter, techniques, mediums, genres, methods, locations, times of day--these are all choices you make as an artist. The next time you create something, change just one of your choices. Just one. Step outside your comfort zone and see what happens.

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