Comfort Zone

Pasadena Professional Building, hallway, tunnel

“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.

* * * * * *

What’s your comfort zone? How do you step outside of it? Let us know in the comments.

#audio recording#audio studio#home studio#recording#voiceover


  1. chris - June 24, 2016 @ 13:39

    So u have been called ‘dear’… wait till you are called ‘ma’am’ ‘…. 🙁

    Years ago, I started speaking my mind more…and I can say I am so glad I did go out of my (safe) comfort zone…

    • Petrea - June 24, 2016 @ 15:35

      I think my first “ma’am” was around 20 years ago! “Dear” is new to me, and I don’t much like it coming from strangers.

  2. Ann Erdman - June 25, 2016 @ 19:42

    I’ve been out of my comfort zone since May 31 on my Freedom Tour, traveling all alone with nobody to chit-chat and socialize with (other than family at a couple of stops along the way). And do you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I think you should audio-record the narrative in one of your future posts. I’d like to hear what the inside of your closet sounds like!

    • Petrea - June 26, 2016 @ 10:17

      I love your comfort zone! Frankly, I’m envious. There’s something rejuvenating about all that time alone. I’m glad you’re enjoying it so much.

      I’ve thought about recording my posts. As I learn the tech, that’s definitely a step on my list.

  3. Lowell - June 27, 2016 @ 05:39

    An interesting post. Hadn’t thought about a “comfort zone” in some time. I used to write music and had a studio at home but it wasn’t good enough to do real demos…so I still had to have them done elsewhere. I was never comfortable in that studio. I’m comfortable in my office, at my desk, at my computer. I’m also comfortable behind a camera.

    I’m surprised that you do your recording at home. I would never have thought that, but I can see why it would work for you and others in the business. Renting studio time is exorbitantly expensive. A Nashville producer told me that producing a country song in a studio can run between $150 and $200k. That’s insane.

    Thanks for stopping by on Ocala. I always appreciate your thoughts and comments!

    • Petrea - June 27, 2016 @ 19:41

      Yowza. I think your Nashville producer was talking about more than just studio time. “Producing” a song, I assume, would include paying for all the artists (including the songwriter), the engineer, studio time, and perhaps packaging and marketing. I wonder how many hours it takes to record a song? Studio time in LA can be $50/hour or $500/hour or more. It depends on equipment, size, engineer, location…so many things. I do work in a studio often, when I record commercials. But other stuff I do at home, and the business is leaning that way more and more.

  4. Lowell - June 28, 2016 @ 04:56

    Hi Petrea…yes, I think he was including all the costs involved.

    Thanks for your funny comment today. I feel the same way – take my pills and a nap and I’m good to go. For another hour or so!

    Have a great day and enjoy being 54!

    We are celebrating our 59th wedding anniversary tomorrow!

    • Petrea - June 28, 2016 @ 20:24

      🙂 to 54.

      Happy anniversary! And wow, 59 years!

  5. Lowell - July 1, 2016 @ 06:58

    Thanks again for your comments, Petrea. They are much appreciated. We were at Amelia Island for our anniversary – a beautiful place north of Jacksonville.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

    • Petrea - July 1, 2016 @ 12:19

      Happy anniversary, Lowell! I appreciate your comments, too.

  6. jb - July 2, 2016 @ 00:17

    Consider yourself fortunate that LA doesn’t have public transport, with young folk leaping to their feet to offer you a seat….
    (I always yell “Get the @#$% back sat down”

    • Petrea - July 2, 2016 @ 08:14

      We do have public transport, but compared to cities like London, Chicago, Paris, New York (I could go on), it doesn’t count, does it? John rode it just the other day, I’ll have you know. He had to stand up all the way home.

      Next time, I’ll try your method. Maybe.

  7. jb - July 3, 2016 @ 03:08

    Surprises me not one bit, youthful-looking as he is….
    Hastens to add: and so are you…!!

    • Petrea - July 4, 2016 @ 17:08

      Would that I could take the train to my meetings!

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