Comfort Zones


One of the reasons I love workshops is that it pushes me out of my creative comfort zone. Unfortunately, whenever I’m given the chance, I still find myself returning to its (my comfort zone’s) warm embrace.

Not only do I seek out my comfort zone in my own writing, but I look for it and commend it in my peers’ work, as well as published authors. For instance, I recently came across a collection by one of my favorite authors, Joy Harjo. I thoroughly enjoy her work; however, I know that I am not doing myself, nor her work, any favors by only highlighting the elements of her poems that I like. Workshops have taught me to look past the superficial aesthetics of the poems that I used to focus on (well, I still do, but I hope to a lesser extent) and shed light on the deeper, more meaningful aspects of the poem.

If I’m being honest, one of the reasons I chose Joy Harjo’s collection was the predominant equine imagery and the ambiguous female pronouns (sound familiar?) While I know that I am judging the book by its cover, so to speak, I am eager to unearth the grit in her poems, as well.

I want to use this so-called technique in my own work. In other words, I want to write a poem that is appealing on the surface level, but raises questions once the reader actually becomes engrossed in it.

Oftentimes, I get too caught up in the surface-level fluff, aka the pretty picture that the poet paints, rather than the true purpose of the poem. That surface level “fluff” is my comfort zone. While I still want to acknowledge my comfort zone, because that’s what originally drew me to poetry, I want to become a better poet. That means that I must step away from the man-made utopias that I usually associate with poems and look more at raw emotion and human imperfections (the things that I tend to stray away from in my writing.)

What do you all do to get out of your comfort zone in your writing?

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