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  • Heather Mistretta

7 Ways Stepping Outside your Comfort Zone Can Lead to Success

So I did it. As promised, I said I would report back as to how successful my forays into enlightenment were last week. Ok, maybe the usage of enlightenment is a bit strong, but I challenged some of my colleagues to step outside their own comfort zones in the ensuing 10 minutes, whether that meant striking up a conversation with a stranger, taking a kickboxing class or venturing into a new environment.

I, therefore, felt the need to do the same. So I did a little yoga, went for a run and even tiptoed outside my comfort zone by shaking up my networking speech. I stepped away from the monotonous and predictable elevator speech. And to my dismay, I didn’t melt, explode or get pummeled by eggs or boos. The resulting impact was worth all the anxiety leading up to it, and yes, yoga does help stimulate the creative juices.

Breaking the boundaries…within reason, of course…in your life can be rewarding, and this can translate into your writing as well. Here are seven ways:

1. Approach a writing assignment with reckless abandonment…if possible. What I mean by this is get all your ideas on paper (or screen) before you let the rules of grammar, syntax and structure get in the way and sap away your creativity. If starting off with lists works better for you, then stick to that, so long as you let your right side of your brain lead the way before the analytical left side barges in. Naturally, you’ll need to go back and revisit your writing with a more critical eye, but there’s always plenty of time for that. Trying to achieve both simultaneously can be frustration-building, stifle imagination and create writer’s block.

2. Determine your audience first. This will allow you to zone in on your focus and avoid wasting time appealing to a mainstream audience, which only deflates the impact of your writing. Every reader wants to feel as if he or she is the only one being addressed.

3. Challenge yourself to remove at least five words from every page you write. Mark Twain would be proud, and chances are you never needed them in the first place. I’m very very truly sure that it will make your writing stronger.

4. Resist the urge to use jargon, colloquialisms, and other one-liners that add absolutely nothing to your writing. Resting on your laurels, if you will, will not make you sound smarter. It will only make you sound pretentious and take away attention from the rest of your writing. Challenge yourself to concoct a better way of saying it rather than using them as a crutch.

5. Try writing in a completely different medium than you’re used to. If you normally stick to narrative, challenge yourself with tackling a poem or screenplay. A Haiku is only three lines. You might surprise yourself when you unearth some hidden talents, or it could trigger a direction in your other writing that you never thought of.

6. Wash away those anxieties associated with whether your writing is right or wrong. There is no such thing. Be genuine with your writing, and that authenticity will come screaming through.

7. Write in a journal. A journal is a perfect place to unleash your creativity without the worry of rules. You’ll find this release will stimulate your creativity and make your next writing assignment easier.

So I challenge you in the next 10 minutes to step outside your comfort zone. I think you’ll be glad you did, and let me know how it goes!

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