How Writing Forced Me Out of My Comfort Zone

I’ll admit it. Most days, you have to pry me away from the computer screen with a crowbar. I flourish before its dull glow, pretending bravery with every word I type. It’s my safe space. It’s my livelihood. It’s my everything.

People terrify me. It’s why I became a writer. It’s the best way I know of to connect.

But writing can also push you out there. Take you out of your comfort zone. Give you the opportunity to try new things. And — conveniently — this is where the best writing comes from.

This past weekend was more action-packed than it’s been in awhile. In fact, it’s probably the most I’ve been away from a computer screen in eons. It wasn’t my fault, though! I blame the writing.

Last month, my senior editor at YourTango asked if I would be willing to give a reading at the Lit Crawl event we were hosting. Because I love lit events with every ounce of my being, I responded with an enthusiastic yes before it actually occurred to me what I was agreeing to. For the next few weeks, every time I thought of the reading, I felt nauseous and dizzy. Wheee!

But this past Saturday at Botanica Bar, with a glass of wine in one unsteady hand, I stood up before a packed house and read my piece on How Drinking Saved Our Marriage without once flubbing the words or projectile vomiting or passing out and falling into the crowd and sustaining a concussion. I even got a few laughs. And afterwards, I was approached by someone who just wanted to tell me how much she related to certain aspects of my piece. And dear lord that felt good.

The experience ended up being so worthwhile to me. And not just because of the visibility and the fact that it got me out of the damn house. Rather, it was worthwhile because it forced me to push my boundaries and, as a result, I felt a thousand times braver. Like, I-can-do-this-again braver. Or if-I-can-do-this-I-can-certainly-create-video-content braver. It even made me feel less terrified of social interactions in general, which is a huge win.

Some tips if you have to do a reading:

1. Practice beforehand. And don’t just read to your computer screen, or to an empty space. Rather, read to a loved one who is prone to teasing the heck out of you. If you can survive their smirking face, you can survive anything.

2. Drink wine. Or take a Xanax. Or maybe both.

3. Volunteer to go first. That way, you can enjoy everyone else’s readings instead of just sitting there in a hazy fog, dry heaving in anticipation.

4. Don’t rush it. Bad things will happen.

5. Be relieved that it’s over. Damn that feels good.

You’re welcome.

Anyways. The next day, my husband and I went to California WineWorks. To bottle wine. That we’d made ourselves. Because I was doing research for this piece.

3 cat cab

I am a hopeless cat lady in every respect.

We had started making the Cabernet Franc almost a full year before. We’d de-stemmed and crushed grapes. We’d mixed in yeast. We’d filled barrels and, this past weekend, we rinsed out wine bottles, filled them with our wine, corked them, and capped them.

I spent two hours corking wine bottles, and I loved every second of it. We got to take home 12 bottles of our very own Cab Franc and, sometime this week, we’ll slap on these dorky labels we designed.

Having the opportunity to be a part of the wine making process felt incredible, and it never would’ve happened if my research hadn’t taken me there.

I’m curious: Where has your writing taken you lately?

Related: Why Write? It Could Save Your Marriage, Better Than Money


  1. Glad to hear it went wel! If you’d like to do more readings, you should totally audition for Mortified ( I’ve done it three times and even though it’s completely nerve-wracking, you always leave feeling more confident and awesome than ever. Weird, but it does the trick!

  2. Susan: I finally got the chance to check out the Mortified website, and I’m so intrigued! I’ve been wanting to do something to combat my social anxiety, and my fear of public speaking, and even considered taking an improv class, but that seemed too… scary. Reading aloud, though. That I can do! Doing that reading made other social interactions — and video recordings — seem much less scary! I need me some more of that bravery! Time to dig through the memory box…

  3. My two favorite places my writing took me: to a bee farm to watch how honey’s made (which completely eliminated any possibility of me developing a fear of bees, since they were everywhere and never stung me), and an aerial dance class that had me hanging from a trapeze and made me realize how weak my core was despite ten years of bellydancing.

    So glad the reading went well! I was wondering how it’d turned out since I’d read your previous post on how nervous you were. Go you!

  4. Natalia: I can’t believe you’ve been to a bee farm. Despite not having an allergy, I am deathly afraid of bees, and would probably pass out from anxiety at encountering such a large quantity of them. Hats off to you.

    And I love that you’re into the same kinds of workouts that I am. I used to do belly dancing and hoop dancing, and am planning to start up again in the new year, because I’ve found a place nearby that offers both. I saw that they offered aerial dance classes as well, and totally wanted to check it out. I’ll bet I’m terrible. I am such a weakling. If only we lived closer together, we could be gym buddies!


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