Ditching the Comfort Zone by Laura DiSilverio

We’d like to extend a Wicked Welcome to Laura DiSilverio. We’re very excited about her new release, THAT LAST WEEKEND, and invited her on the blog to tell us about it.

Every now and then, I take a baby step outside my comfort zone.

It’s called a “comfort” zone for a reason. Being outside that zone is uncomfortable, emotionally or physically. It’s challenging. It’s a struggle.LD COVER It feels like the world is all sharp edges, rejections, and anxiety. I don’t like it out here.


But, if I never stepped outside the comfort zone I wouldn’t become a better writer. If I didn’t try new things, scare myself, make myself vulnerable, put myself at risk, my writing would atrophy. The same holds true for the writing itself. If I don’t push myself to try new things, I don’t feel like I’m growing.

My latest book, THAT LAST WEEKEND, represents a largish step outside my CZ, from a writing perspective. Where my cozy mysteries (15 of them!) and my Young Adult trilogy are written from a single first person POV, THAT LAST WEEKEND has four viewpoint characters, roughly equal in importance. Where my other books had one timeline, THAT LAST WEEKEND takes place in the present and the past. The POV and the timeline necessitated a change to my writing process; to keep storylines and timelines straight, I actually had to do some outlining, which isn’t my usual process.

comfort zone (1)If that weren’t enough, I wanted the relationships between the main characters to be as important to the book, as important to readers, as solving the mystery. Don’t worry mystery fans–there’s more than one mystery at play here, lots of plots twists and surprises . . . I didn’t stray so far from my comfort zone that I eschewed dead bodies! (Wait for the book after this one . . .) I want readers to think of this book as being about friendship and how friendships change under pressure and over time. (The friendships in this book are admittedly under great strain since there’s a murderer running around.) I hope you’ll read the book and let me know whether or not I succeeded.

Let me leave you with this thought about comfort zones by Dan Stevens (whom you may know better as Matthew Crawley of Downton Abbey fame):

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.”

One commenter chosen at random will get a copy of THAT LAST WEEKEND so please chime into the discussion!

When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone. Was it a deliberate choice, or were you shoved? For instance, I became an empty nester last month, an instance of being shoved out of my comfort zone.

Laura DBio
Laura DiSilverio is the national bestselling and award-winning author of 21 mystery, suspense and young adult sci-fi novels. Library Journal named Close Call one of the Top Five mysteries of 2016, and The Reckoning Stones (2015) won the Colorado Book Award for Mystery in 2016. She offers writing tips and strategies at CareerAuthors.com, a new resource for novelists at all levels. She is a recent empty nester struggling to come to terms with a life that is seemingly devoid of all meaning. (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration.)

57 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the Wickeds, Laura! Good for you for pushing the envelope. It sounds like a tricky thing to write and a great book to read. Question: Do you like your new skills, writing multiple POVs and timelines? Will you do it again? Did it make your old way of writing seem pedestrian, or do you plan to do more single POV and timeline books?

    1. Thanks for having me here, Edith. I am enjoying my new skills and my next two books, both women’s fiction, have multiple POV protags. I wouldn’t say the other tools in my writing tool kit seem pedestrian, just that they’re not suited to the kind of books I’m currently interested in writing.

  2. Congratulations for being brave enough to stretch your writing muscles! Even if you decide your experiment didn’t work out the way you hoped, you’ve learned something about yourself and your skills. And about what you enjoy about writing, which is equally important.

    1. Thanks, Sheila. I have enjoyed the process of trying something new, and since the writing process is about the only thing an author can control in this biz, that’s enough for me!

  3. Congratulations! It sounds like a very interesting departure. I look forward to reading this one.

  4. What a great post (and quotation). Recently, I took on new responsibilities as a hospice volunteer. I sensed that I should say “yes” and stretch outside my comfort zone. Now my comfort zone is growing, and it’s even more meaningful. Congratulations and best wishes on your new writing adventures!

    1. What a wonderful gift of yourself and your time you are offering to people who must need it very much, Susan. Thanks for taking the time to drop by today.

  5. Welcome, Laura! The new book sounds fabulous.

    I’m about to step out of my “comfort zone” in a big way. I’m starting revisions on my first attempt at a historical mystery. It was half a step, half a shove. LOL

    1. That sounds great, Liz. What time period are you working in? Who shoved you?

      I’m off to hike partway up Pikes Peak with some out of town relatives, but I’ll be back to chat more this afternoon.

      1. I’m in 1942 – the very beginnings of WWII for the US. The first shove came from friends in Sisters in Crime. In 2016, they issued a short story challenge, to submit as many short stories as possible, particularly targeting major anthologies. When the call went out for Malice 12, Mystery Most Historical, I almost didn’t submit because — I don’t write historical. The story, “Home Front Homicide” was accepted.

        Another friend of mine said she’d love to see the character in a novel, but I thought “nah, I don’t write historical.” But the character wouldn’t leave me alone, so I fiddled around. Then I got a plot idea. Then at Malice last year, another friend (one of my critique partners) told me she talked to her publisher about my project. After that, well, I had to write it. 🙂

      2. Liz, I love this history of your path to historicals! My 1880s series came about similarly – short story. Accepted and published. Characters, setting, and era refused to go away!

  6. I did notice this title was a departure from the other books by her that I’ve read. I, too, have recently been empty nested. But then low and behold, both kids are back in the same town as us! It’s hard, but rewarding to start these new, more adult relationships with your kids. Congrats on the new book and thanks for the chance to win!

  7. Welcome back, Laura! The Last Weekend sounds great and I’m so happy that you had the courage to try something new — it’s inspiring. I’m writing a light romance. It started as a novella with one POV. I decided I need to go for it and write full novel with two POVs. It’s fun to do something so different (and scary too)!

    1. There can be a lot of energy in trying something new, can’t there? I will certainly read your romance, although it’s not a genre I usually read. When does it come out?

  8. Good for you Laura, stretching yourself as a writer! It is easier to stay in the comfort zone for sure. I have not read your books, but will look for them now.

  9. thanks for visiting, Laura and congrats on your newest venture! For years I have had the phrase “Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone” written on the glass sheet mounted on a wall in my office as a reminder to keep stretching and growing. My biggest discomfort lately was learning to dictate my writing. I was really resistant at first but had mentioned to my husband that I was considering it. He bought me some dictation software last Christmas. There was a bit of a learning curve but I discovered I love it! I can “write” so much faster and have used it for two books so far as well as most emails and blog posts. Thanks for the reminder to keep trying new things!

    1. And thank you, Jessie, for sharing your dictation journey through this blog. I didn’t end up using software much on my computer, but recently I downloaded a free (Dragon) iPhone app that showed me how speedy dictation can be compared to typing! What a time saver when I have writing ideas–almost no matter where I am!

    2. Wow, that’s interesting Jessie. I may have to try dictation software. One step at a time . . . 🙂

  10. This sounds really good! I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone numerous times– most recently, I’m moving w my older son and his family out of state. I’m disabled, but babysit their kids. They’re even trying to get a house w a separate space for me–we’ll see how that goes!

    1. That’s a huge leap, Karaleigh. Good on all of you for being so brave. I hope it works out well and that you love your new community.

  11. Welcome, Laura. We’re so happy to have you here. I’ve always used my short stories as places to experiment, with different structures, timelines and points of view, among other things. But lately I have had much time for short story writing. Your post is a good reminder to get back to it.

    1. Doing short stories at all would be a giant step out of my comfort zone. I’ve written a couple, but I don’t have the knack for good ideas that fit in so small a space.

  12. Hi Laura! I’m so excited to read this book. It sounds like a perfect fall read. I didn’t exactly step out of my comfort zone, I was pushed when the company I worked for laid off my department and I became a full-time author. Scary? You bet but I was able to navigate through the change and I’m loving every minute of my new life. Good luck with your release!

    1. That’s a hard shove, Debra. What a relief that you’re loving your new situation. Many people in your place would have been immobilized by fear. Good luck with your authoring.

  13. I’m so excited to read this book. Thank you for the chance to win. The last time I really had to step out of my comfort zone was when we moved across the country, and I hated it.

    1. Sorry to hear you hated moving, Daniele. 🙁 Did you hate where you ended up, or did you hate the process? I grew up in an AF family and then spent 20 years as an AF officer, so I’m used to moving. Some moves went better than others!

    1. Bah, humbug, Mark! I think you’re kidding, but if not, there are lots of ways to step outside the comfort zone that don’t take time at all. Take a new route to work, or eat somewhere new or even try a new genre!

      1. But I take the fastest route to work already. And I usually show up late, so I need to take the shortest route. 🙂

  14. As an editor facilitating a writing group I get shoved outside my Comfort Zone all the time by my “students” who insist that I write on the assigned topic each week (even though only the former teacher {who is in her 80s} who assigns the topics is the only one who even attempts to do so on a regular basis).

    1. I’ll bet you’ve really expanded your writing repertoire by doing that, Barbara. I hope it’s fun.

      1. I do it kicking and screaming all the way. I prefer responding to questions that can be answered in a few minutes rather than twenty minutes of sustained writing.

  15. Laura, I’m so excited to read That Last Weekend. I’ve been hearing about it and your explanation of writing it makes me even more anxious to get it on my TBR pile. 🙂

    As for comfort zones, I have a great fondness for them. Sadly, I had allowed my comfort zone to grow so small that I had no room to breathe and the outside of it pressed in threatening to make it even smaller. So I broke out, quit my day job, and decided to make a go of being a full-time writer with one manuscript under my belt, no agent, and no contract.

    Now, staying home all day, in yoga pants, and playing with imaginary people probably doesn’t sound like breaking out of a comfort zone to most people but it was a culture shock to me. I think I’ve done well (I hope so) and I plan to keep pushing myself.

    I have to … my only kid leaves for college in a little less than two years.

    1. So brave, Aimee! And if you want to talk about the trauma of kids leaving for college, I’m your gal. 🙂 I wish you oodles of luck with being a full time author. What are you working on now?

  16. Usually when I step out of my comfort zone it’s due to pushing myself, however, it takes a lot of pushing.

    1. I know, Jana! It’s so much easier to stay in that comfort bubble. But (most of the time) there are huge rewards for breaking out of it. Thanks for stopping by today.

  17. What a wonderful post, Laura – glad you are trying something new. I, too, love Jessie’s quote. I was literally moved out of my comfort zone after my husband accepted a new job in a new state. We moved from our home of 15 years to a new place – and love it. I’m doing a cozy mystery series but try new things in short stories. My attempt at “California noir” will appear in the new Chesapeake Crimes anthology in the spring.

    1. California noir? Wow, the genre categories get more specific all the time. I’m glad you like your new location. I know moving can be stressful, having done it about 20 times.

  18. In case you haven’t figured out, I’m back from my hike on Pikes Peak, and desperately need a shower. We had a beautiful day for it and hiked for about three hours before having lunch at Adams Café in Manitou Springs. Thanks to all of you for posting while I was gone. I should be around the rest of the day, if anyone wants to carry on the conversations.

  19. I usually get pushed out of my comfort zone but have been trying new things since I retired. Would love to read the new book. Am just reading the middle young adult book on my Nook.

    1. I’m so happy you’re reading the Incubation trilogy, Sally. I hope the fact that you’re reading the second one means you’re enjoying it. What sorts of things have you tried since retiring?

      1. Yes, I’m enjoying the series. I have the last one on my Nook, too. Since I retired I did more cooking and gardening. The out of my comfort zone stuff was volunteering through the church by making apple dumplings for election days, working at the Farm Show and helping at the soup kitchen.

      2. Making apple dumplings would be so far out of my comfort zone, Sally, that I wouldn’t be able to see my comfort zone from there! I’m looking to do more with my church, too, now that I’m an empty nester.

  20. H Laura, I love multiple-point-of-view novels and have The Last Weekend on my TBR list. I think you’re right on about comfort zones. They feel good for a while on a snowy day when you want to cozy into your warm afghan with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book, but comfort zones do not make us better writers.

    1. Your description makes me want a snowy day, Pat. (But you’re right about not becoming a better writer if we only do the comfortable thing.)

  21. Congrats on your new book. Sounds like a really interesting read, adding to my TBR list. I stepped out of my comfort zone when I retired after 30 years at the same company. Turned out to be a great decision.

    1. Retirement is one of those life events that tends to force a lot of change, whether we want it to, or not.

  22. And the winner of THAT LAST WEEKEND is skywritingsusan! Please email me your address, Susan, through my web page. Thanks!

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