Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 4 – Fears and the SHIFT


We’re drowning and don’t realize it.

Instead of water, we call it

“the comfort zone.”

– P. June Diehl

Many feelings can impact us in ways to keep us inside our comfort zones. Unworthiness is the foundation of this wall. Other feelings compound and build our comfort zone walls higher.

Here are some things (remember the nasty voices?) to look out for:

Don’t do this. You’re going to hurt yourself. (fear)

Who do you think you are? (guilt)

You don’t deserve this (unworthiness)

Don’t ask people for things. They’ll just let you down. (hurt)

You can’t….<fill in the blank>… (discouragement)

Do any of these sound familiar? Do you listen to them? Believe them? I try to hear what those voices say to me. Hey, maybe they have something of value, or maybe not, but I can’t tell until I listen, evaluate, and decide how I’m going to react to that voice. (Also known as THE SHIFT!)

I also use my intuition as a part of my evaluation. This is another listening process – one of listening inside. This is a big factor, or me, in coming to a decision.

Each one of us has the power – WE make the decision how to react.

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.

It is not a thing to be waiting for, it is a thing to be achieved.

–          William Jennings Bryan

The comfort zone does have a purpose. As infants and toddlers our parents wrapped their own comfort zones around us for protection. This was a good thing.

In order to keep us safe, our parents taught us FEAR. This can be translated: Don’t do anything new. When we take the lessons our parents taught us to the extreme, we throw another twenty thousand bricks on the comfort zone wall.

When we did what our parents told us not to do, this might translate into guilt. When we were caught and “corrected” we began to feel bad, wrong, naughty, no good – and this grew into feeling unworthy.

We learned from the adults around us about feeling hurt. When someone didn’t deliver, hurt walked in on the emotional rollercoaster.

Sometimes this feeling of hurt can turn into anger. Some people lash out while others blame or withdraw. All the while we learn and throw up higher and higher walls on our comfort zones.

The environment and our heredity shape to make us who we are – who we become from where we came, our experiences. Our reactions today are the result of where we came from. Our reactions to the fears, guilt, hurt, unworthiness, and anger grew out of a place that was meant to keep us safe.

There is no blame in this.

We are who we are. BUT once we realize that we don’t need to stay in our comfort zones, we realize that we also have other qualities: courage, compassion, vision, wisdom….and many others.

So I say to myself: I accept who I am, all my gifts including what some might call limitations, for I need these also to help create inner balance.

I’m not a big one for taking risks. Baby steps allow me to function outside my comfort zone. When I wish for change and growth, I keep my focus here. I know myself well enough to know that if I leap now I’m setting myself up to become overwhelmed, to fail.

Baby steps for me equals success.

And I will rejoice in each of those steps.

Challenge for today: What do those nasty voices say to you? Do you question them? How do you respond back to them? How might you use them to MOVE OUT of your comfort zone?

Best Wishes,


A Writer’s Process, Part 5 – Space


We’ve previously explored writing the draft. Today’s topic – space – is about the down time before you begin to revise.

To recap:

Catching the idea

Evaluating the idea

Growing the idea

First draft


Reading the draft

Revision and self editing

Critique group feedback

Rewriting or recreating

More revision

<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>

Final manuscript

Congratulations on completing your draft!

But…now what?

You’re probably feeling excited and wanting to jump right into your revision.


(Do not pass go. Do not touch those words. Really. DO NOT.)

There are a few things you need to do before getting back to your story and revising.

If you’ve not celebrated completing your draft, by all means—do it now. Do something special for yourself. Rejoice with others. Let the world know of your accomplishment!

Sit back and enjoy the feeling of having finished your draft. Relish those feelings. Tuck them away into your mind so you can access them any time you wish.

Plan. How will you go about your revision, after spending some time away from that project? Who will you get to review and give feedback? Think about how your revision might work.

Plan some more. If you work on multiple projects at one time, now is a great time to plan a brand new project. Maybe jot down some ideas, a character or two, and do some research. Maybe you also have a completed project and that needs a query letter so you can begin sending it out.

Read fiction. For pleasure! This helps to create space between you and the draft before you get busy revising. Give your brain a break. When you are ready to get back to your draft, you can see it through new eyes.

How much time “off” should you take before starting your revision? That’s up to you, but I would suggest a minimum of three or four weeks. Use this time to get re-energized.

When you wake up one morning and you know (your muse and intuition speaking to you) it’s time to start revising your draft, TODAY is the day to start.

Next time – the re-read of your draft and ways to RE-VISION your novel.

OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE UPDATE: I’ll be posting an update on where I’m at in a couple of days.

Question for today: What do you do after you’ve completed your first draft? Share your response!

Best Wishes,


Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 3 – A Plan Develops


Now, to work. I’ve been pondering: What is it I want to focus on next and how do I get there?

The dream: To work from home

The structure: Take small steps

Where I am: Planning stage and moving toward development

Brainstorming ideas:

Turn workshop materials into ebooks

Teach more workshops and classes

Edit more author manuscripts

Write articles

Finish one novel and get it published

Blog more frequently

Build my writer’s platform

Finish a second nonfiction book for writers

Expand the Live Your Writing Dream newsletter

Consolidate multiple websites under one umbrella (a Marilyn idea – she’s in my online writing group)

Then I ask: Which of these might have the biggest payoff for me?

I love the idea of passive streams of income and took a course in this earlier this year. Marilyn (in my Artistic License writing group) also mentioned this as a good marketing tool in one of our group chats. I’ll be converting my workshops into ebooks. I’m also interested in writing some ebooks to help writers overcome issues: time management, writer’s block, getting organized, how a creative person can survive the publishing business world, etc. Once I’ve developed and have some of these set up, I’ll need a marketing plan to get them out to writers.

Another area where I’ve been having success is giving workshops, so I’ll focus on developing more of these. (And then turn them around into ebooks.) Last week I proposed a workshop called Nonverbal Communication for Writers and it was accepted. I’ll be teaching this one next summer. (Another month that is filled!) I’ll also look into teaching more classes.

The third thing I’ll focus on is finishing one novel. I have one that 2/3 completed. Need a final critique from the writing group, a submission package, and then the decision about a publisher. I chose this one as one of the top three because, while I do have nonfiction, short stories, and poetry published, I need a fiction novel for added creditability.

My priorities:

  1. Create and market ebooks
  2. Finish a novel
  3. Explore other places where I might teach workshops

Where I am:

  1. Four ebooks based on workshop materials are close to being completed
  2. Scheduled at least one workshop per month for the rest of 2010 and 2011, except for a couple of months in 2011
  3. Scheduled to teach a year-long fantasy novel writing class starting January 2011
  4. My novel, MURDER IN D MINOR, is 2/3 completed.

Next steps:

  1. Finish one ebook over the coming weekend
  2. Explore where and how to market/sell the ebooks
  3. Plan time to work on the novel, MiDM, at least four days a week, completing 5000 words a week
  4. Find and contact organizations about offering workshops or classes. I can propose ones I’ve already developed.

Wow, I have a plan of action. So for the next week or so, I’ll concentrate on staying focused on my plan and keeping ACTIVE. I also hope that by exposing other writers to my process and my journey that I’ll inspire some of you to work toward living your own dream.

No retreat. No turning back. My hands are at work today and my feet are pointed toward tomorrow.

Challenge for today: What’s your dream and your plan? Maybe you’re the type of person who jumps right in or maybe, like me, you are moving forward with baby steps. What works for you?

Best Wishes,


Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 2 – Fear Drops In


It happens before you barely get the words out of your moth: I’ve decided. I will live my dream.

Mine: I will live my writing dream. Step One: Begin the process to work from home. I’m now officially working remote one day a week. Small, and a step forward. I’m also working on building a passive stream of income.

Then it happened.

FEAR: It’s a silly idea.

ME: I WILL do this.

FEAR: You can’t. Not for a million reasons.

ME: Yes, I can. I will.

FEAR: It will dissolve into thin air, just like your other ideas.

ME: <wavering> Hum. I….Well, like what?

FEAR: You’ll end up losing your house, the cats and dog will go hungry, and your dream will be flushed down the toilet.

ME: That’s crazy. I can make money from my writing. Turn my workshops materials into ebooks. I’ll have more time to finish my novels, have more time to do more workshops and classes…

FEAR: You won’t do it. I know. You’ll never make it to the next steps. This is foolish. Just do the day job. It pays for all you need. All you could want. And for your retirement. You can’t defeat me.

ME: <standing taller> Forget it! I can face my fears. I don’t have to defeat you.  I can use my fears to make me stronger. Throw it at me. I will do this. I will live my dream.

Round One: Me!

And I know fear will return. I’ll be ready. The Universe will send me reminders. Like this morning. I was flipping channels when I ran across a movie called “Revolutionary Road.” I don’t know what made me stop, but I did. The wife was explaining to her husband that they should be doing something to make a difference. She proposed they give up their lives in suburban 1950s America and move to Paris. She would work a government job and he could take the time to figure out what it is he really wants to do. Fears and challenges fight again this idea. They fight back. (NOTE: I didn’t watch the whole movie, but understand it has a sad ending. For myself, I hold onto the dream, the possibilities….)

Fears are not something to overcome. Do you know how much energy that takes? I chose to take that energy and put it into my dream. I will use the energy that fear throws at me to propel me forward to what I want.

When faced with fear the body becomes alert, the mind sharpens. All of this makes one ready. Ready to meet the challenge. The energy from the fear is used, taken in, and helps in overcoming what is before you.

Fear gives the energy necessary for moving toward our dreams.

Fears and the resulting challenges make me stronger. A strength I need to move me forward. A strength I crave in living my dream.

It’s a learning process for me, and I will stumble, never losing sight of my dream.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience

In which you really stop to look fear in the face.

You are able to say to yourself,

“I’ve lived through this horror.

I can take the next thing that comes along.”

You must do the think you think you cannot do.

–          Eleanor Roosevelt

Challenge for today: Think about ways you can make use of your fears to provide the extra energy needed to live your dream. First we have to recognize the fear(s). Have a conversation with yours. Write it down. Share some of your journey if you wish.

Best Wishes,


Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 1


Do or do not. There is no try.


Part of writing a good story is to give plenty of challenges to your protagonist. In other words, you take him or her outside of the comfort zone, and in the course of the story, the character grows or changes in some way.

But what about us? Do you challenge yourself? To grow as a person we have to step outside of our own comfort zones. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from our protagonists.

(Now, you might be asking yourself: Why would I want to go outside my comfort zone? I like it here. I’m comfortable. Why should I seek change and challenges? My answer: That’s what life is about – giving yourself opportunities for growth. When you grow as a person, you also take your writing to a different level.)

Next you might say: Yes, I want to grow as a person, write better stories, but…


Here’s a quote from DO IT! Let’s Get Off Our Buts by Peter McWilliams:

“But” usually means: “Ignore all that good-sounding stuff that went before—here comes the truth.” You might even consider BUT as an acronym for Behold the Underlying Truth. (And Buts can be shortened to BS.)

Today, no “buts” allowed.

Changing and growing is something most people say they want. “I want to have a lot of money.” I want to get my dream job.” “I want a big house with lots of kids.” I want a new car.”

“I want to be a full time writer.” “I want to find a publisher to publish my book.”

“I want to work from home.”

Whatever it is that we say we want, we have to do something, to perform some act or series of things, to get there.

The bottom line question is: Will you go after what you want, or will you stay where you are, in your comfort zone?

Sure! Getting outside of your comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. But is that really reason enough not to do it?

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.

What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.


When you knock at the wall surrounding your comfort zone you will encounter something that will again try to hold you back (like that word “but”). It’s like a vast wasteland and its name is FEAR.

Fears cause discomfort. They might come in the form of unworthiness, of guilt, anger or hurt feelings. It’s easy to become discouraged when straddling the border of the comfort zone and what lies beyond. This is the boundary between staying where you are and living your dream.

Do you want to go with me? Cross that boundary and face those fears? I’m on a journey and you’re welcome to come along. I’m going to LIVE MY DREAM.

In Part 2 we’ll look at fears and see what we might do to get both feet across the border out of our comfort zone.

Challenge for today: I challenge you to LIVE YOUR DREAM. What is it that you want to do with your life? Write it down. Keep it with you. Share it here, if you wish. Are you willing to take this journey with me?

Best Wishes,


The Oddest Thing About Writers and Marketing


Dear <Publisher>,

I’ve finished my manuscript and seeking publication. . .

Marketing? I know you asked for a marketing plan, but I don’t have a website, blog, and don’t plan to use Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network. I really don’t know anything about marketing or how to approach this. I do want my book published, but I’m not really interested in marketing. Besides, if I knew how to market my book, I wouldn’t need a publisher.


Janie Writer

Dear Ms. Writer,

A marketing plan is part of our submission process. If you’re not interested in marketing your book why would we want to work with you or publish it?



Don’t laugh. I’ve seen emails like the above from writers seeking publication.

Any publisher, including traditional publishers, assumes that a writer will market his or her work. If a writer chooses to self-publish, I’m curious how the writer thinks anyone (outside of friends and relatives) will find, must less buy, the book.

Think a large publisher will pay for the marketing? Delete that thought from your mindset. In today’s publishing world, outside of a small advance – if one is even offered – publishers don’t budget much if anything for marketing of a midlist or new author’s book. If you don’t have a highly recognizable name (King, Roberts, Patterson, Grisham, etc.), don’t expect the publisher to spend much on the marketing of your book.

There are many helpful articles online, so if you don’t know much about marketing, read and learn as much as you can. You don’t have to spend tons of money or hire a high priced PR firm to makes sales.

Google “marketing your novel” or similar phrases and read those articles. They have tips on where and how to market, what works and what doesn’t.

No promotion by the author = no sales.

Bottom line: when I come across a writer who has no interest in marketing, my voice is REJECT.

Here’s a submission—focus on marketing—that most publishers would be happy to see.

Dear <Publisher>,

I’ve finished my manuscript and seeking publication. . .

My marketing plan: I plan on having a website built for my book, as my author’s website. I’ll make use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. I’ll make or have someone make a video trailer for the book and use my website and YouTube to promote it. I’ll also contact libraries and bookstores to arrange book signings. After researching marketing tools and websites, I’ll make use of the ones that are best suited for my novel. I’ll also have copies that I’ll buy which I can send out to book reviewers.


Janie Writer

This is an author I would be willing to work with as I know she would put time and effort into promoting and marketing her novel.

Question for today: When you’re ready to submit your writing, what’s your marketing plan?

Best Wishes,