Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Same-old, Same-old
In biology there's a principle known as homeostasis. In a nutshell, it's the idea that all living creatures have some method of keeping internal conditions within comfortable (or at the very least, survivable) parameters. So it's only natural that we humans -- including those of us who take up the writing life -- should strive to stay within our comfort zones.
To me, homeostasis helps take the guilt factor out of what Steven Pressfield calls "resistance" in his excellent book, The War of Art. It's part of our nature to resist change. Even when that resistance stunts our growth and limits our future.
How? Take the writer striving toward publication, who can never seem to Finish the Damned Book. Or the one who can't quit tinkering with that first chapter or looking for validation through critique groups or opening-page contests. Or how about the writer who sways in the wind of every suggestion offered (by whomever!) until her original vision for the book is lost forever? And then there is the writer who can't seem to mail a query to an agent or a proposal to an editor, or the one who freezes, unable to post the full manuscript once it has been requested.
Homeostasis/resistance doesn't take a break when one is published. It keeps writers from trying a new form or genre. It prevents them from taking risks in their work. It locks them into a mental construct of their limits and prevents them from making the changes necessary to break through to the next level.
It's hard work pushing through our fears and taking chances. It never happens by accident but instead requires the force of will. So ask yourself as you go about your work this week: am I going to end up as stunted and twisted as an ancient bonsai, or will I break out of my tiny pot and thrust my mighty roots into the soil?