Shiny New Ideas and the Edge of the Comfort Zone

IMG_0185I have a Shiny New Idea. A few of them, actually. I’m allowing myself to jot down notes and brainstorm during idle moments, but I’m holding back from diving right in. I’m so close to being done with Venus and having it ready to query. The query and synopsis are just about done. The manuscript is just about polished. So of course I’m beset by a multitude of plot bunnies.


I don’t take ideas for granted. When ideas find me, I try to give them attention, even if I say “wait your turn” while I finish the current WIP. I’m not sure how to juggle the baby ideas with the older ones, the ones that need a patient round of revisions to be complete. I’m scared I won’t ever get to them. I’m scared I won’t get Venus done, and I’m scared that I will get it done because then I have to move onto revising H&S, and I’m terrified about tackling that one.


The closer I get to the finish line, the more I find myself digging in my heels as fear whispers in my ear. If I never finish, I don’t have to continue. I want to continue, I want to move on to the next project, and the next, and the next, boom boom boom, banging out the words and those “the ends.” I want to put my work out into the world. But I’m scared, too. Shit’s about to get real. I feel ready for it, and I’ve been steadily working toward this point for years, but still…


That’s the thing with comfort zones. At the edge, we encounter resistance. Even if we’ve been racing toward it, we might find ourselves slowing down, taking stock, experiencing new (or old) fears. The edge of the comfort zone requires a stretch, akin to growing pains. It might require us to do something we’ve never done before, or do something differently. Expanding the comfort zone requires us to be uncomfortable. We don’t like being uncomfortable. But you know what? We’re resilient. We can do this. We can change and grow.


It takes conscious choices, awareness, and self-reflection to test the edge of the comfort zone, to stretch it out and decide what feels right. Chances are, we’ll give that boundary a big push and then decide that’s just a tad too far. We’ll let the edge bounce back a bit. That’s okay. It’s flexible.


Sometimes we slow down as a way to conserve energy before a huge push, the contraction before an expansion. And then the edge expands even further than we could have dreamed. That’s when we surprise ourselves. “Wow,” we say. “I didn’t think I had it in me.” You did all along, and now you know you do. The comfort zone has expanded to include whatever thing you thought you couldn’t do, and there’s no going back.
So that’s where I am. I’m right at the edge, secure in the tasks I feel comfortable with. But any day now, I won’t be able to fool myself any longer. I’ll be ready to take the next step, and I’ll know it. And that’s when everything will change, because I’ll know what I’m really capable of accomplishing. I won’t be able to hold back anymore. As Marianne Williamson has said, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” Once you know what you can do, you can’t settle for less. Once Venus is finished, it’s on. No going back. And yeah, that’s scary. But it’s also worth it.

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