Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: How I Wrote Outside My Comfort Zone

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[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Sierra Hill to the site! She’s talking all things writing outside of your normal comfort zone. Take it away, Sierra!]

In the years I’ve been writing and publishing contemporary romance, I’ve primarily stayed within the light-hearted, happy, cute (but still ridiculously steamy) new adult trope lines. Like buying the same toothpaste when I run out or choosing one fast food franchise over another, I’ve been comfortable writing in the light erotic romance sub-genre. 

But here’s the thing about the overuse of the familiar. It may fit like a pair of old, worn slippers, but it can also become repetitive. Repetition leads to the dreaded writer’s rut, where creativity dries up like a well in the Mojave Desert. 

That’s when it’s time to shake things up and try something new. Authors like Nora Roberts, who moved to her darker, romantic suspense side with her J.D. Robb books, turn to something different to keep interest and creativity sparked.

When I was invited to participate in a dark romance anthology, I realized it was time to step outside my comfort zone and write in a different sub-genre.  Writing for an anthology, which included ten other authors’ works, gave me the opportunity to take a risk, step out on a ledge, and expand my voice as an author.

The prospect of writing in the unfamiliar sub-genre of dark romantic suspense terrified me, yet it also provided me with a safe haven, surrounded by like-minded authors, most of whom I’d never worked with before and were also in the same boat. Pursuing a common endeavor equipped me with motivation I needed, and lent me the tools to knock out the negative, self-sabotaging voices inside my head to make room for creative ones.

As with any new practice, there are steps to help carry us forward in the process. 

Step One: Remind myself that I. Can. Do. This

Just like in the award-winning movie, The Help, I kept up my daily mantra that said, “You is Kind. You is smart. You is important.” Dousing the raging fire of self-doubt with a cool elixir of positivity and encouragement was a required part of meeting my writing goals.

Step Two: Keeping the community aspect of writing alive.

When you work as a writer, it’s generally in isolation. It was nice to have a community of other authors to call upon when we got stuck. We created a group page where we shared the challenges we faced, what was or wasn’t working, and reminders of what tasks we needed to complete and when. It was a small group of authors, all of who wanted to see it through. 

Step Three: Inviting feedback and critique.

Since this was the first time I’d stepped into the “darker” side of romance, I had to open myself up to a different type of critique by inviting other authors to beta read and provide feedback. There’s always a fear that what you’ve written won’t connect well with others.

Step Four: All for One and One for All

Although each one of us wrote and submitted individual works, the end product will eventually be one full anthology, and therefore, it’s up to us to promote our work as a team. It isn’t simply about “my” book or “my group of readers,” but instead, it’s a collective effort. Each of us holds a shared responsibility. We have a leader and a PA who keeps things on track, but it’s up to each author to do our part. Success or failure is based on how much effort we each put forth.

In the end, I’m thrilled with how great this anthology experience has turned out. It took me into a writing space I’d never been before. I can now proudly say I pushed through the challenges, set aside my fears, and wrote outside of my comfort level. 

Our new release, Leave Me Breathless: The Black Rose Collection is out on all major eRetailers on January 21st.

About the Author:

Sierra Hill wrote Physical Touch, her first full-length romance, after a corporate acquisition provided her some quality writing time during a stint of unemployment. She has always been an aspiring writer, and feels incredibly blessed to be living her dream.

When not working part-time or writing her hot, steamy novels, Sierra loves attending live concerts, and is a huge alternative music enthusiast. She and her husband even travel to various cities across North America whenever their favorite band, Pearl Jam, is on tour.

Sierra freely admits to being addicted to reading, all things chocolate, and too much coffee.

Sierra resides in the Seattle area with her husband of twenty years and her rescued (and certifiably crazy), German Shepherd dog.

She is currently busy working on her next book.

Leave Me Breathless: The Black Rose Collection, out now!

Introducing the darker side of Leave Me Breathless…

When the daylight fades and time stands still. The feeling of flying from just one touch. Moving slowly, kissing softly. The flash of fever, becoming lost in the flames. Surrendering. Going under. These are the moments that leave us breathless!

The Black Rose symbolizes rejuvenation or rebirth, but it can also symbolize death and farewell. This collection of romance books can all be read as stand-alone books and are guaranteed to give you a happily ever after that leaves you breathless! What will it take to tempt you?

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