Often times, authors find themselves pigeon-holed into writing just one genre. Whether it’s because that’s the genre you’re passionate about, or it’s your strongest genre, or the genre your publisher is looking for—that doesn’t mean it should be all you write.
Breaking outside of your usual genre is a great way to improve your writing, explore new revenue streams, and reinvigorate your outlook.
Improve Your Writing
In all fiction and memoir writing, the same writing skills usually apply—but different genres focus more heavily on different aspects. Thus, it stands to reason that writing in another genre would strengthen the aspects that genre focuses on, a skill which can apply in your other writing.
For example, you can learn about….
- atmosphere and avoiding anachronisms by writing historical fiction.
- backstory by writing science fiction.
- motivation and suspension of disbelief by writing horror.
- pacing and tension by writing thrillers.
- character emotion by writing romance.
- characterization, plot, and behavior by writing memoir. (Source: Writers in the Storm)
You don’t need to try to sell whatever you churn out while experimenting outside your genre. Think of it as a writing exercise, a way to flex your creative muscles in a new way. Just as with exercise, you’ll only improve in the areas you work, so you’ve got to mix it up to get a healthy body (of writing). With that said…
Explore New Revenue Streams
Writing outside your genre doesn’t just mean writing a different type of fiction. You can also play with form. Poetry, short stories, and articles are also great things to try. There are always magazines looking for freelance writers, so give it a spin. Write about what you know, whether that be a review of a local restaurant, a piece about how to sell your home in the off-season or advice for other writers. If it’s an unpaid piece, try to slip in a promotion for your book. Free publicity!
There are also contests for shorter works, and while they don’t often offer much compensation, they do offer prestige and expertise, which can feed into getting more freelance gigs, better publishing deals, and perhaps even public-speaking opportunities.
And you never know. Maybe you will find that you’re really good at writing in a genre you never explored before and will go on to be published in that genre as well. I mean, if Sarah Dalton can do it, why not you?
Reinvigorate Your Outlook
Writing the same thing can get repetitive. With time, we can get worn down and worn out. It’s topical fatigue. But, when you write something else, everything is new, fresh, and interesting again. It’s a change of pace. You’ll explore interests you didn’t know you had. Trying something new can make writing fun again, make you remember why you do it. And that breath of fresh air doesn’t die when you return to your normal writing. It reinvigorates your passion. You’ll look at the work with fresh eyes and new appreciation.