Monday, August 8, 2016

Agoura Hills, Comfort Zones and the Importance of "Return To" Days




I wrote a post about writer's block and then it found me.

Stymied on a dedicated writing post, I thought I'd post instead on the progress of my latest novel, writing outside of your comfort zone, and another tool I use to get through writer's block; Return-to days.

For a so-called agent of chaos, I need a lot of things in life to run smoothly in order to be creative. I sprained my shoulder (sleeping, as far as I can tell) about a month ago and never gave it time to heal. So I had to stay out of the gym, which throws my creativity off. Then, I wound up getting a new job, No gym, new job; no writing.

Any break in the routine throws me off.

So instead of turning into a freight train and churning out crap, I took a step back to recharge. The longer I'm away from my world, the harder it is for me to return, which brings me to the first topic; Return-To Days.

I use Return-To Days as a way to beat procrastination. Knowing exactly which day I'll return to a task helps me mentally prepare for it. I like to put return-to's at the beginning of a week, or a work week, so I've had time to relax and prepare. In the case of my injury, the return-to serves as a marker to either get back into the gym or (ugh) go see the doctor about my injury. Either way, it's time for this particular incident to be done. Return-to's mark days when, no matter what, a situation will be resolved and it's time to get back to work. It's my nuclear option, the last resort to ensure I don't stay out of the game for too long.

Agoura Hills (YA Supernatural Thriller) is both a test and a triumph. My wheelhouse is usually science and fiction (though my prose needs work). I've never written a thriller before, and I've actively avoided young adult because I don't know if I can do the genre justice. It's a triumph because it's the first book fans have actually asked me to write. So it goes to the adage; work hard and get results. It took me eight years to get this far.

Agoura Hills, the story of a young man investigating horrific incidents that occurring in his home town, isn't coming along as quickly as I'd like, but I write fast and I know the story. I'm confident I can have the first draft done by September 1st. Writing in a genre I'm not comfortable with brings me to my final point

You should take any opportunity you can to get out of your comfort zone. Comfort can lead to complacency, which can lead to stagnation if you're not careful. Your first attempt at any endeavor is probably going to suck, sure, but practice usually improves your skill. Say your wheelhouse is fantasy. What if, one day, you could write mysteries? Science fiction? Horror? And you did them all well?

You never know what you can do until you try.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is the author of epic dark fantasy Era ofthe Scourge: Reclamation and scifi/romance the Anniversary. Titles are available on Nook and Kobo too. If you’re new to Kobo, you can get both stories for free!

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