June 24, 2016 by Petrea
“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.” Robert Allen and Mark Victor Hansen wrote that in their 2002 #1 New York Times bestseller, The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth. (That’s right, it wasn’t Eleanor Roosevelt. Dude, can you picture her saying “comfort zone”?)
I have two comfort zones. One is my desk, where I work on my novel, write stories, pitch articles, and keep up with correspondence and social media.
My other comfort zone is in front of a microphone. My job, the one that pays the bills, is recording voice-overs. I read and interpret the script, give it all my enthusiasm, and do my best to please the client. Then an engineer edits the recording, adds music, and sweetens the spot for broadcast. That’s how I’ve done it for years.
But to be viable these days, a voice-over performer must have a home studio. Much of what is broadcast now is recorded this way. Auditions are recorded at home. A large percentage of audiobook narrators tell their stories from garage studios, closets, and kitchen nooks. This means that, more and more, the voice performer is also an audio engineer.
Here is the border between my comfort zone, and where I must boldly go.
For a while, I had a sound booth in the dining room. It was a hulking, gray mass. I called it my Tardis. It was okay for auditions. I learned some basic audio editing techniques so I could create a quick MP3 to send out. But if I wanted to record something to air on television or radio, the sound quality in the Tardis wasn’t good enough, and my software couldn’t handle the work.
So John and I have redone the bedroom closet. We lowered the ceiling and added padding on the walls. It’s slightly claustrophobic but it’s mine, and it sounds pretty good in there. I’m ready to record real things. Things people might want to listen to.
Creating the sound booth was step one outside of my comfort zone.
Eleanor Roosevelt did remark on this subject, saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” It’s my mantra now.
Yesterday, a store clerk called me “dear.”
I’ll show her.
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What’s your comfort zone? How do you step outside of it? Let us know in the comments.