Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone

Anna Bak from Poland writes about her experiences at the creative-critical writing workshops during the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Katowice, June 2018.

How often do you test your writing limits?
How often do you write outside your comfort zone?
During a day of workshops in Katowice, I did. As usual, it hurt.
And, as always, it was worth it.

You think you know English until you actually need to use it. Daily conversations are easy. But what about expressing thoughts on topics like “home sickness” or “the impact of new technology?” That kind of discussion is challenging even in your mother tongue! Suddenly this foreign language forces you to squeeze a variety of complex emotions into over-simplistic words. Not a comfortable feeling for a writer! Combine that with some writing stiffness and you are likely to get writer’s block.

But there you are, in a workshop with other aspiring writers, all feeling the same way. And you get through it, sharing thoughts and ideas inspired by literature, philosophy, film, music and pictures. After your initial shyness you begin to feel the topic and dive into the discussion. You embrace your limitations and start writing. Supported by an open and understanding atmosphere, and despite your inner critic, you read your small piece and enjoy listening to others. And you survive.

After the workshops you know the lines you wrote will not win a Nobel prize. At the same time you are proud. Because you tried something new. You tested your writing limits. And now you know no one will magically make your writing better. Only you can do it.

So next time you receive an e-mail invitation to a writing workshops that inspires and scares you, just apply and go. And see what happens.

Anna Bak, Poland

To learn more about Anna’s writing, find her here.