Getting out of My Comfort Zone By Diane Stark

For the last few years, my articles and essays have regularly appeared in several of the regional parenting publications. There is one editor in particular who is especially receptive to my ideas. I usually query her first, and if she’s interested, I write the story. After she prints it, I re-submit it to other regional parenting magazines around the country. (Most of these magazines buy just one-time regional rights, meaning I can sell the same article to any other magazine as long as their readership does not overlap. For me, this generally means I don’t send the piece to two magazines in the same state.)

Regional parenting publications pay modest rates, usually about $50 per article. But since I was selling the piece to multiple magazines, I was making a few hundred dollars on each story. I was happy with that…until my husband got involved. “What about these magazines?” He asked me, pointing at the glossy parenting magazines at our local bookstore. “Have you ever sent any of your stuff to them?”

I shrugged and shook my head.

“Why not? I’m sure they pay a lot more,” he said.

For months, I avoided thinking about his suggestion. I was happy with things the way they were. But that wasn’t the whole story. You see, I wasn’t truly happy with the situation, but I was comfortable with it. The truth is, I don’t like rejection. The editors at the regional parenting magazines liked my work. They gave me compliments and checks, and I enjoy both of those things.

But was I living up to my full potential as a writer? Or was I settling because I didn’t want to get out of my comfort zone?

One day, I was reading one of those glossy parenting magazines and I came across an article I could have written. ‘My stuff is as good as this,’ I thought. I decided to send out my next story to a national parenting magazine. I assumed I’d get rejected, and when I did, I could still send it to my favorite editor at the regional magazine.

I figured I had nothing to lose.

The crazy thing was, within an hour of emailing the story, the editor at the national parenting magazine had written back with an acceptance! She offered me $750 for the story, which worked out to about $1.25 a word.

I was elated. Since that initial success, I’ve received far more rejections than acceptances from the national magazines. That part isn’t my favorite and sometimes I’m tempted to go back to the regional magazines where I’m more comfortable. But staying in my comfort zone doesn’t help me grow as a writer.

I’m determined to keep stretching myself, to keep reaching outside my comfort zone.

Because once in a while, that effort produces some really amazing results.

Diane Stark is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Her work has appeared in New Parent Magazine, more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and A Cup of Comfort for Christian Women. She is the author of Teacher’s Devotions to Go. For more information about her book, visit or email Diane at Dianestark19- at –