Write in your discomfort zone

Karalee’s Post #48

For the last year or so I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t wait to get back into a writing routine and enjoy the discomfort of trying to write about something that I know little about.

A comfortable discomfort zone.

What does that mean?

It means that it’s my choice. I can choose to write about something I don’t know about. Even the thought of tackling an unfamiliar subject used to stress me to the point of losing sleep. I would worry about looking stupid. Or naive. Or heaven forbid, actually being wrong.

But the last couple of years have shown me that what I had perceived as a discomfort zone was really more like a zone of exciting challenge; a comfortable discomfort zone. A place I want to be.

A place I choose to be.

I say this because lately I’ve been in a place I never chose to be and really don’t want to be, somewhere in the stratosphere beyond any level of comfort. Freud is right in that the subconscious plays a major role in our lives. I have been extremely good at burying my childhood memories, but they have risen to the surface nonetheless, stirred up from the bottom of the cauldron of my life, drawn to the surface by the persistent paddle of the present.

Recently I’ve had to learn to deal with and accept the consequences of decisions that weren’t mine, both in the present and in the past. At times it has been overwhelmingly painful and my stubbornness has reared its head. I truly dislike having to accept what I don’t want to, and it’s a concept that I still have great difficulty with. It’s definitely way up there in my discomfort zone, but I imagine it would be for most people.

So I take comfort in having normal feelings and reactions.

Freud was also right in that childhood experiences play an absolute major part in how we view the world and react to it. And I accept that many of my reactions are the consequences of my childhood.

I also accept that my reactions can change, and that’s where much of my time and energy has been spent over the last couple of years. I’m astounded that I’ve managed as much writing as I have. It’s been my sanity check even though I live in the head of my characters.

So instead of reading thrillers and mysteries, I’ve immersed myself in the self-help section of the bookshelves and gathered my strength and gone for help. Now that’s another concept I’ve had difficulty with as well but have been better at dealing with.

I’ve been in a discomfort zone most of my life and that’s not all bad by any stretch. It means that I’ve had many challenges, some because of other’s actions, but many more due to my own push to do well in life. For instance:

  • leaving my small town and going to university and medical school was huge and way beyond any level of comfort. It was truly a positive life-changing decision.
  • Starting up and building my physical therapy practice was very stressful and challenging, but another great decision that was completely outside of any zone of comfort.
  • being a parent and responsible for helping to mold someone else’s life was and is still challenging, albeit the comfort zone is now in familiar waters and I’m reaping the benefits of the hard work my husband and I did together. It was and is well worth the loss of sleep and the anxiety of being a parent.
  • Joining this writing group was also out of my comfort zone, but I submitted my writing and let it be judged, another decision well worth the angst.

Still, none of the above challenges are as emotionally draining or as frightening or overwhelming as dealing with childhood trauma. The power of the mind still astounds me, that experiences can literally “be forgotten” only to be triggered years later. The experience is truly amazing if I look at it from a science point-of-view, but in the middle of it all I thought I must be crazy to think or believe what I was remembering.

Like I said above, I truly dislike having to accept what I don’t want to, but my memories have been validated so my job has been to learn to alter my reactions to triggers in my life and to change relationships that aren’t working.

The good news is that I now know about and understand this subject and have felt the depth of despair as the saying goes, yet I have also at times come to a place of peace that I’ve never had before either.

And what fodder for writing! Even if I can get half the feelings I’ve felt onto paper the depth of my writing will be on a whole new level.

We’ve all heard the term “write what you know.”  I agree, but I also can’t wait to get back into a writing routine and enjoy the discomfort of trying to write about something that I know little about.

A comfortable discomfort zone.

A place where great things can happen.

Happy writing!




10 thoughts on “Write in your discomfort zone

  1. Ah, that old childhood stuff!! Been at healing that most of my adult life. So much fun! joke – but not really a joke – the rewards have been enormous, and like you I find a level of peace and comfort in my own skin that I’d never have been able to experience before doing the “work”. I think we become richer because of it, so your writing will be richer too. Bonus!

    • Thanks Alison. Not easy work especially when where I “was going” was unknown. And yes, my writing will benefit too.

  2. Wow, Karalee! If you ever decide to have your fictional characters go through the emotional pain you’ve experienced, it will be an awesome read! It may also be immensely therapeutic. Stay the course, girl, you can do it!

  3. Amazing post Karalee!

    Amazing post Karalee! I feel like we’re witnessing a metamorphosis – of both your personal life and your writing – with both emerging more powerful! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Pingback: Video from my reading! | The HeSo Project

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