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Writing Out of My Depth: Why You Should Challenge Yourself Professionally

this image is from Flickr User brendahallowes

Today is the last day I’m writing at Adotas.  My (incredibly brainy) friend from college, Brian LaRue, is Managing Editor there, and he posted on facebook last weekend that he would be taking a week off, and needed a fill-in writer.  Adotas’s subject matter is technology and marketing.  I offered my services post haste.

I may be a bit better informed than the average end user, but I’d position my know-how at the top of the bottom tier of tech-savvy.

So writing for adotas was challenging.  Even when writing about the changes in TV Marketing.  Also, it’s really hard to be interesting in jargon.

I am an artist.  Writers are.  People forget that, I think.

A thing about being an artist who practices writing is that I’m curious.  About everything.  So I spent my week learning terms like pre-roll and verticals and SQI and exploring concepts of which I had, really, peripheral awareness, like the role of analytics and how ad-based marketing and branding are changing.  I looked up a lot of initialisms, too.  That world slaps initialisms on everything.    And I loved it.  It was like being 22 again: looking out over a vast expanse of possibility and the unknown, and recognizing that there is so much I don’t know, will never know.

So yeah, it was harder than it strictly needed to be, but it’s really important to step out of your comfort zone once in a while.

Here’s Why

1.  Diversity in work history is good.  Employers look favorably on people who are willing to do or learn what the job demands, regardless of their expertise or experience.

2.  Learning new stuff feels good.  It’s good for your brain and your self-confidence.

3.  When you challenge yourself professionally, you remember that the world extends beyond your purview.

4.  You get to meet new people who you would never meet in any other context.  I talked on the phone with the CEO of Share This. While he was on a plane. How cool is that?

5.  As an artist or other sort of creative person, stepping outside of your comfort zone demonstrates your ability and desire to make unexpected solutions, and it can also help your potential clients or employers think creatively about how to put you to use.

6.  Getting your name in front of more people is always positive.  When you step outside of your zone, you position yourself for relationships or clients you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.

7.  You refresh your awareness of your own resourcefulness.  The ultimate death blow in any career is comfort and stasis.  Especially in our world that is constantly changing and being niggled into unfamiliar spaces by technology and its capabilities.

8.  It reminds you how to admit you’re fallible and how to ask for help and where to look for help you can give yourself.

How about you?  Any great stories from stepping outside of your expertise?  Any other reasons to do so?

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5 comments on “Writing Out of My Depth: Why You Should Challenge Yourself Professionally

  1. At this point I am happy to have FOUND my area of expertise before I croaked. :) Great post!

  2. This is a great list, April. I’m at an age where I’m comfortable with working within my comfort zone, writing novels, but it took nearly 30 years of being a writer to reach this stage. I was a freelance journalist, magazine feature writer, real estate marketing person, and I did lots of other writing jobs as well. Some of these were very difficult, but they trained me to have an eye for detail and to write tight but beautiful sentences. I’m passing on your post, because your reasons for stepping outside your comfort zone are great.

    • Yeah. You know, as I wrote the post, I wondered how my ideas about this will change as I grow as a writer and a professional. And in some ways, being a writer is kind of like putting on a different hat every day. We have to wear the same hats as our characters, feel what they do, etc, etc, etc. Thanks for passing on the post. :-)

      • It is interesting to see how a writer changes over time. I loved being a freelance feature writer, because I’m so curious about everything! Every assignment I took was a new adventure, an opportunity to meet new people, to learn new things. And I loved it, I really did. But as life changes took me by the hand and led me down my path, I had to let go of some things, to focus on others. I don’t think that happened until I became post-menopausal, and that is a very common thing.

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