When you first start writing – or even when you’ve been writing for a while – it’s easy to get stuck in a genre rut. If you have always written poetry you may tend to stick with what you know and write only poems. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with that (I love writing poetry) but if you don’t try your hand at other forms and styles you’ll never know whether you like them or not. Sometimes it’s easier to stay inside our comfort zone and keep doing what we know but it’s good for our minds and our creativity to break out every now and then and try something new. Start small – if you always write poetry in rhyme have a go at writing free verse or haiku or a sonnet. Make a list of all the different poetry forms and work your way through them.
The same applies to fiction and non-fiction. You may feel you’re an adult fiction writer but have you ever had a go at writing for children or writing memoir. Writing for kids forces you to consider your audience carefully along with the style of your writing. It pushes you to see the world thorough children’s eyes, which is always a good thing. Writing memoir helps you recapture memories, experiences and feelings that you can transfer into your fiction. It also helps you make sense of the past and reconnects you with people you’ve met and places you’ve been.
Short Stories are another challenge you might like to consider. Shorter pieces have boundaries you have to work around – length, number of characters, engaging the reader quickly, unravelling the plot at the right pace, coming up with a resolution that works. And most importantly, making every word count. Writing short stories can be extremely difficult for those of us who love to ramble and lose ourselves in the story, but they’re a great way to impose some discipline and practice different aspects of writing.
It’s good for us to think outside the box in all areas of our life and writing is no different. You might even like to work on two different pieces at once – a memoir and a novel, a Chick Lit and some poetry. The thing is don’t pigeon-hole yourself too soon as a writer from one particular genre. Experiment and see where it takes you.
And have fun with whatever you’re writing.