That unmistakable sound of jingling pocket change on Friday can only mean one thing: It’s time for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! Unless Friday is your laundry day. Or the day you treat yourself to breakfast from the vending machine at work.
But let’s assume you’re here for my weekly writing tip, which is offered up from 15 years as a newspaper columnist. And let’s further assume that kind of writing pedigree was extremely impressive. Then you would understand why some of today’s most respected fictional writers and equally fictional educators have referred to my NWOW as:
Advice you’d expect from someone who is indeed a professional. Wait, I said in need of a professional…
Required reading for my students whenever I’m mad at them or too hung over to actually teach…
Admittedly, I am a bit embarrassed. Not only by those gushing accolades, but also because I am writing this post while naked — which brings us to this week’s Nickel’s Worth. At this moment, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is he writing naked?!” Unless of course — and this is understandable — you didn’t actually notice. I should clarify the sum of 5 cents and my being naked aren’t related. At least not directly. What I will say is this: If I were a stripper, I would be the only one with a change belt instead of a money pouch. And we’ll just leave it at that.
Ok, so why am I writing in the buff? To make a point about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. See? Aren’t you uncomfortable? While there is a lot to be said about maintaining a writing routine, it’s important to avoid a rut by challenge yourself to drift out of your comfort zone from time to time. That’s the place where we discover aspects of our writing voice we hadn’t considered — or even knew we had. Think of it as being in a choir; while it’s comforting to know you can lip-sync if you forget the words, you can’t develop your own sound until you risk a few solos. (Note: It isn’t necessary to perform your solo naked. I just wanted to make that clear…)
While I have developed a certain style as a columnist that readers have come to recognize, thus allowing them to immediately turn the page, I make the most of my blogging opportunities by contributing to different sites whenever I’m fortunate enough to be asked. This weekly post is one example. Until I was asked by Sara O’Connor at Gliterary Girl to contribute a weekly feature on writing, I never would have considered offering my insights and potentially stalling the careers of thousands of other writers. What I discovered is that spending a few hours each week thinking about what it takes to be a writer has forced me to examine my own writing. Which is a welcome distraction when I’m naked.
Recently, I became a contributor to The Grimm Report, which is a truly funny blog dedicated to “hard-hitting” news from the fairytale world. While it’s written in a vein familiar to me because of my journalist background, I still have to do my fairytale research and step outside my normal writing “zone.” In short, I still feel like I’m risking a solo whenever I push the “post” button there. But I know it’s good for me to feel a little nervous. Which is why I make sure I am fully dressed when I submit my posts.
Getting out of your comfort zone can be a simple as participating in any of the “Daily Writing Challenges” hosted by WordPress or other bloggers, responding to open submissions on blogs or websites, or reading and commenting on sites you wouldn’t normally visit. The one important factor is that it should involve active participation, i.e., it should involve some level of “risk” by being open to a response or feedback — positive or negative. That’s where the line between “comfort” and “discomfort” is drawn. It can’t be expanded if it isn’t crossed.
One final thing about comfort zones: The more you push them, the larger they get. The end result is an expanding level of comfort within different types of writing, from subject matter to style. This leads to new perspectives, writing opportunities and a stronger voice — which is why, as writers, we need to keep expanding.
As long as we don’t have to show up to any book signings naked.
(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)
65 thoughts on “Occasionally, you need to write naked… or at least out of your comfort zone”
There’s got to be something sarcastic that can be said about you writing naked in front of a sign that says “do not go beyond this point”.
It just appeared one day a couple of years ago. I’m thinking they had a premonition.
Just be glad you don’t work here 😉
The more you challenge yourself, the more you realize you can take. Thanks for posting this. Nice photo, too 😉
Slightly related: http://katanapen.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/yes-everything-is-trying-to-kill-you/
You didn’t type this post with your hands, did you?
Of course not… and it took forever.
That’s the hunt and pecker method.
The trick is avoiding getting pinched.
Reblogged this on createdbyrcw and commented:
Depending on your local climate, you may not want to get this far out of your comfort zone, but it’s good advice nonetheless
Something about naked… And open submission… (I didn’t expect that one)
Oh, and keep expanding… Yes, yes…
Mrs Ned is a lucky gal indeed. 😉
Lol! Mr. Ned has no complaints either 😉
Exposing your words to others can be much more vulnerable, than exposing your nakedness. writing naked is a double MENTAL exposure, hiding nothing, laying yourself open and trusting that you will be treated kindly, with respect or in some instances… simple shock and awe.
Absolutely. Your words expose something deeper than the flesh, and reveal something about yourself in a way that is more unprotected. You are exposing your essence, which is a much bigger risk.
That said, my attempt to “walk to talk” is probably closer to a less than shocking “awwwwe.” I suppose I could’ve gone with eating tripe as an example of pushing my comfort zone.
eating tripe?!? how about?..ahhh no
Um… Yeah, I know where you’re going with that… (lol)
Sound advice, Ned … in the spirit of which I have written this answer sitting on the loo … which, as we have not yet got the heating on in our house, is waaayyyy outside my comfort zone.
You can always use the heat from your lap top, Angela.
You should quit tanning in your Elvis costume.
If you’re writing while naked, it’s got to be clear that someone got short changed. There’s change due on that nickel.
Wait… we’re talking about monetary change, right?
We’re not talking about millimeters.
Or English pounds.
Or short stories.
Hey, Steve deserves extra credit for the Elvis comment!!
Uh huh huh
I’ll send him a gold star 😉
Or tall tales.
Good thing you’re not a hack.
Ouch! I think my testicles just ascended. Not that you’d know it…
Spooky Ned, I was only saying to my Queen yesterday that if I was asked to contribute to another blog I’d probably refuse…but now I would have to give any such offer serious consideration before refusing…thanks, I’m off to put my clothes back on. REDdog
Glad to hear you’re keeping that option open. And by that I mean the clothes and the guest blogging.
As you have become the inspiration for my career, I have taken your advice to heart. I stripped down and sat down on the couch, hammering away the keyboard, the words were flowing, I thought to myself “Ned’s a genius,” the furniture store owner said they were calling the police.
You owe me bail money…..
I should’ve been more specific. Next time, bring a towel to sit on. The bail money is on the way via naked currier. Hope it helps.
Thank you, you are too kind
well perhaps i will reconsider that offer to join the local nude badminton league. i will be queen of the shuttlecock yet!
Hahaha! Definitely something to aspire to!
Nine times out of ten naked is better anyway. =)
Somehow, I’m always the 10th person…
I forgot my comment, Ned. It must be all this talk about nakedness. I, in fact, asked this very question on my blog once and some bloggers admitted that, in fact, that was the only way they blogged. I’m not sure I believed them. I’m eating salmon and I’m not naked! Excellent advice, too.
I totally get where you’re coming from; I have the same rule about eating salmon.
Excellent comments but I don’t believe you’re really naked (like the actors in love scenes under the sheets
I could prove it, but then I’d have to change the rating on my blog 😉
I am convinced. I will write my next post completely naked. I will inform you when this occurs.
Excellent. But I’ll take you at your word, Tom — no need to offer proof…
When you write naked where do you keep the nickel?
Second thought, never mind.
Third thought, thankfully you don’t have a million dollars as that would be hard to “hold” while naked.
OK I’ve thought about a naked man writing too much for a Saturday morning.
Now I’m wondering if I should’ve made it a dime instead of a nickel. Just because they’re smaller.
Since I am sneaking around and blogging while at work, I think they would frown on the naked part. Wine and naked blogging may happen at home later though. (my dog will send you the bill for her therapy)
It’s funny how often alcohol and naked blogging coincide…
tonight might be the night…only if I can part with my football jersey!! 😉
😉 Some things aren’t meant to be parted with!
This is pretty great! As a dog blogger, I technically always blog naked. It’s the only way to go. 😉
Unless you’re talking about “going” in the yard; my neighbors would frown on me doing that 😉
I suppose you’re right about that. We dogs sure do have it good. 😉
Ned, I have to say your article not only gave me pause to roll that thought around in my brain and agree, but also made me *snort* at more than one point. That may not sound like a good thing… it is. I’m just glad the coffee was still in the cup and not in transition to my mouth at the same exact moment.
Thanks, Lindy! I’m glad to provide a good snort, and that there wasn’t any hot coffee spillage involved. Especially if you were following my nakedness advice.
Your biggest fan here,
Thank you SO much for sharing this post. Aside from your humor that always draws me, I was also completely hooked by the content. I’ve only been writing/blogging for three months and already am struggling with my voice. Do I write for myself or my audience (all three of them!). Obviously, I know the correct answer to that, but it still doesn’t give me enough courage to put myself out there…naked, vulnerable and authentic. Heck, I’m scared to use curse words somedays even though the expletives are screaming to be let out.
Even though my site is all about being real and celebrating imperfection, I readily admit that it’s still quite responsibly filtered and fully clothed in a manner that covers me safely while getting to remain likeable and pretty–kinda like a 1980 pastel purple Gunny Sax prom dress. Ironically, I’ve had a draft sitting on my dashboard for several weeks titled, “Let’s get Naked!” It doesn’t have a single sentence or photo attached, but I know it’s a subject I want to attack at some point. Maybe I’ll try that skydiving gig first.
Thanks for the inspiration. Feel free to pass those along any time!
“Kinda like a 1980 pastel purple Gunny Sax prom dress…”
Haha! That is quite possibly one of the best descriptions I’ve ever read. As for the draft, it sounds promising, Michelle, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s still on your dashboard. It’s sort of like the impulse buy theory: If you walk away and forget about it, then you didn’t really need it. If you’re still thinking about it after you leave the store, then it’s more than an impulse. Because it’s still on your dashboard, it’s more than an impulse. You’ll know when you’re ready to write it 😉
I’m going to do something I don’t normally do, simply because I don’t want to sound schmucky, but since you asked, I’m attaching the link to my weekly “Nickel’s Worth on Writing” archive. It’s basically more posts on writing, which I do each Friday. I really hope it’ll offer some inspiration, and won’t come off as self serving. Whether or not you check it out, I’m appreciative of your kind words and am glad I can give you a laugh and a bit of inspiration 😉
Looking forward to that post and others.
The last way I would describe you is “self serving” and I truly appreciate the link. I’m gathering reserves from all resources at this point 🙂
Regarding the Gunny Sax description…I only was able to do so well because that thing is still hanging in the closet back at my parent’s house. It was high necked, itchy, fluffy and a daddy’s dream. I think you have a daughter(s)…they are welcome to borrow it when it’s time. Thanks again, Ned! I will look forward to Fridays (even more than I do already!)
My oldest daughter just graduated from high school last year, but I may call when my seventh grader enters high school. Then again, I might just make a her a dress out of car fenders.