Beyond Your Comfort Zone?

Let’s talk about pushing beyond your comfort zone.

If there’s one thing a writer will HAVE to do at some point in their career, whether it’s at the beginning or once established, it will be pushing past the comfort zone and taking a chance. Doing something that puts you in the spotlight can be – difficult.

  • Pitching face-to-face
  • talking to industry professionals
  • promoting yourself
  • blog tours
  • signings
  • interviews
  • the list will go on and on and on…

Can you say nervous?!?

But it has to be done. It’s part of the process in learning/refining/perfecting the craft of writing. Whether it’s approaching your first pitch session, your first blog post, joining a crit group or entering a contest. All of these things can make the blood pressure soar. I’ve submitted, entered and queried a few times (well maybe more than a few, okay a lot more than a few), and to this day, I STILL hover over the send button for a while, gripped with anxiety.

More recently, I attended an online pitch workshop called PITCH UNIVERSITY.

Now not only is there WONDERFUL info here, but Diane Holmes (the leading PitchU Guru) has a fantastic line-up of industry professionals who are more than willing to help you learn how to pitch. Interacting, commenting, guiding us as aspiring authors, to refine our pitches into amazing hooks. And – you guessed it – she had to push beyond her comfort zone to set PitchU up and get all the great peeps to come visit.

I was completely caught up in the experience and wonderful support and advice. Enough that I took the plunge and entered a VIDEO pitch.

Ugh. Video. How’s my hair?

This could NOT have been more outside my comfort zone. I wrote, re-wrote, and re-re-wrote my pitch SO many times it started to sound wrong no matter how I tried to say it. (I was shocked at how many times I cursed when I’d mess up. Label me Ensign Wall because evidently I’ve got some sailor in me somewhere.) So I ditched the script and went with my conversational pitch. I knew this was a learning experience, so I just did it. After fifty some odd retakes, I slapped it on You Tube, copied the link and sent it off before I could rethink my decision.

Here’s attempt numbero uno: (I’m hiding my face in my hands – UGH)

NOT good! Oh, not good at all. With some super comments from other attendees, Diane and Christine Witthohn, I tried again! This time the kids were home so I had to curb the cursing and replace it with a lot of stomping feet and OMG’s. This of course got the kidlets to thinking mom was crazy and I had to bribe them with ice cream NOT to tell friends and family – or the school counselor.)

Here’s the second attempt:

Okay, better. Right? RIGHT?!? That one only took me 42 tries, a whole bar of chocolate and some serious jumping up and down in frustration. BUT, I got much better results and found an awesome comparison line to use in my final pitch.

Here’s the final – finally.

So that was my step/leap/vault outside the comfort zone (and hey, so is today since I’m posting these for all of you). There have been many times I’ve had to do something that made my stomach knot, and I’m sure there are tons still to come. It’s all a matter of taking fear by the throat and choking it into silence. Go for it, take a chance, put yourself out there. Sometimes the rewards are huge, sometimes they are small, but in each instance, we learn something.

Care to share what you’ve done that was out of YOUR comfort zone?

We’d love to hear about it.

20 Responses to Beyond Your Comfort Zone?

  1. You’re awesome!

    Inventing a new persona, Jenna McCormick,


  2. Dang it, premature sending again. Ugh, Monday.


    Inventing the Jenna McCormick persona was my big leap outside the comfort zone. Never thought I’d write full out erotica, but here I am!


  3. Awesome? Did you WATCH the first take? LOL.

    And you did great creating Jenna. Eased into it with grace!


  4. jbrayweber says:


    You look so relaxed, it’s hard to believe behind the scenes you were a stomping, cussing and acting criminally insane. LOL!
    It truly is important to step out of your comfort zone. I feel otherwise a writer will not progress and grow. No matter where a writer is in his/her writing career, there is always room to grow.
    Congrats on the video pitches. You did a great job. Here’s hoping you turn some industry heads.



  5. Thanks Jenn,

    Trust me when I say it was FAR from relaxed. However. the kiddo’s thought it was hilarious, so at least there’s that.

    Industry heads? Turning? Oy, here’s to hoping.


  6. Diane Holmes says:

    Candi, You’re the perfect example of the new “Writer Who Pitches” archetype.

    Old A: I suck at pitching. I’ll always suck. Everyone I know sucks. I need ice cream.

    Old B: I’m great at pitching. I don’t know what your problem is. You just tell them what your book’s about. I don’t even think about it. It’s easy.

    New Candi Archetype: I used to suck at pitching. But I learned and practiced and got feedback. Rinse, repeat. Now I’m pretty good at it. Plus I earned a “fearless” badge just for stepping out of my comfort zone. And now agents and editors say YES to me. A lot.


    (By the way, I think your last two videos are the same…)


  7. kim hornsby says:

    I saw yours on there! Like you, i submitted mine before really thinking and didn’t worry about the outcome.I was happy to be in such brave company and learned from watching everyone’s. Pomada said get it down to 50 words though. Ugh!


  8. Diane Holmes says:


    Hey, if you want help getting it under 50 words, give me a shout. I’ll work on it with you. 🙂


  9. Hey Diane,

    Thanks for stopping by. I lurve my Fearless badge! And I fixed the pitch examples so the last two aren’t the same anymore. Ugh. That’s what happens when Animal Control decides it’s spring time. No sleep = ummmmmmm?

    I talk about PitchU and you all the time.

    And since using the last pitch, I’ve had 4!!! full requests (including the one I got at PitchU.) They weren’t kidding when they said a good pitch can get attention.

    Though some of the steps outside your comfort zone can bomb, others can give you a real boost.


  10. Kim! Welcome.

    I remember your pitch! They might want you to refine it down to the meat and hook but I loved how your love of your book showed through in your pitch.

    I’d take Diane up on her offer to help you refine it. She sliced mine down to Medium, Small and tiny, each one keeping the core elements.

    And even gave me an awesome idea for my comparison line.

    Good luck and thanks for stopping by!


  11. Diane Holmes says:


    I love the smell of success in the morning! Seriously, 4 requests for full?! That’s what we’re talking about.

    Imagine after you sell…. If you have that kind of success rate (percentage-wise) pitching to readers, you’ll have an “over-night bestseller.” Snicker. Just love this term, as if you didn’t even have to try.

    As you’re being interviewed on Oprah, just wink at the camera. We’ll understand your secret code and reply, “Oh, yes, the world just fell at her feet and she didn’t even have to learn to pitch.” 😉

    Such is the myth of you.


  12. Poise ~ Grace ~ Lovely!


  13. Diane…

    Can you just move in and follow me around saying stuff like that?


  14. Rounder – HA!

    Well if THAT’s what you saw then the acting course I took in high school XX years ago paid off!

    Thank you darlin.


  15. Diane Holmes says:

    Candi, why, yes, I can. 😉 It’s a little-known option at Pitch U right after “purchase agent/editor bobble-head doll (select one).”


  16. Renee Pace says:

    Totally loved that Candi. Thank you. Honestly your take 1 was mine for my first romance pitch so I totally get it. By the way love the sounds of the YA book!


  17. Hi Renee,

    I’m sure most of us could come up with a horrid first pitch if we tried, or didn’t, either way.

    LOL! It was a fantastically fun learning process, and I’m glad I have the experience under my belt. It will make it so much easier the next go-round.


  18. Hey Candi- I’m a little late to the party because I’m down in Destin for Spring Break. Some one has to be here soaking up the sun!
    Loved seeing all your videos and how they progressed. I actually had fun posting my video because I had Diane there helping me…guess that was kinda cheating. Even so, looking at the result, I now know how to make it better and more easily understood. What a great web site! I so encourage all of you out there to go take a peek!


  19. Diane Holmes says:

    Hi, Stace! I’m getting ready for Adam Freidstein’s PitchFest week starting Sunday. 🙂 I do love me a good pitch event.



  20. […] Beyond Your Comfort Zone? « MUSETRACKS […]


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