I had a conversation the other day with a writer friend of mine. We both confessed to having a fear of our writing becoming stagnant. She refused to become a one-trick-pony. I agree one hundred percent.
She’s had more books published than me, but I understood where she was coming from. I write historical romance and romantic suspense, but the nice thing is that both of those can be expanded to include a wide variety of fun time periods and adventures. I can even write a historical romantic suspense! The possibilities are endless.
But is that enough to keep my inner thirsting writer satisfied? The answer is a resounding NO.
In college, my writer friend and I would challenge each other. He was always brooding and jaded, so I challenged him to write something beautiful and imbued with hope. I, on the other hand, was challenged to write something dark that did NOT have a happy ending. We put the task before us to write outside of our comfort zones.
That challenge has stayed with me. Write outside of my comfort zone. Up to this point, I’ve taken baby steps with this idea. But no longer is that the case. I wrote and published a novel and a novelette last year. This year I’m upping the ante.
I promised myself that this year I would write more than I ever have before. One project on that list was to write a stage play. So I did some research and dove into it, ready for the frustration and uncertainty that comes with a new venture.
The idea for the play hit me out of the blue and it reflects a lot of me in it: a dash of humor, a healthy dose of romance, and a side of self discovery. The notes came together quickly, as did the outline, but I was at a loss when it came to formatting the blasted thing. Some helpful sites directed me in the proper format of a play, and let me tell you, it’s a pain in the backside. But the project is worth it, because I think it has a powerful message. At least I hope it does.
Again, that writer’s insecurity rears its ugly head. While that fear is hovering over my shoulder, I brush it off and go back to it. I can’t edit a blank page, now can I? Write the bloody thing and then go back and perfect it, just like I did my novels.
While I set lofty goals for myself this year, you don’t have to take it nearly so far. Challenge yourself to write something outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s just a short story or a journal entry. If you never use it, it’s not a big deal. But it pushes you to think outside of your self-prescribed box of tricks as a writer.
If you write romance, try horror.
If you write thriller, write literary.
If you write mystery, dabble in satire.
If you write horror, try something a bit lighter and family friendly.
The challenge is to write something you normally wouldn’t choose, something you struggle with personally. It will not only help you polish your writing skills, but it will help you grow as an individual.
Like my mom always said, “How do you know you won’t like it if you don’t try it?”
So try it…and see what happens. Good luck.
I do this too, but my genre usually has something strange in it. I’ve written science fiction, historical paranormal, and one fantasy. Now I’m working on a first person point of view. I like to play with all the tools.
That’s awesome! It’s always fun to try new things when you’re writing. 🙂
These challenges show us how versatile we really can be. I wrote a short killer story based on a similar challenge from Kirsten and Michelle. 🙂
Great post, Kirsten. I’d also add that I always know I’m on the right track with my writing
when I’m both equally parts THRILLED and TERRIFIED. That’s always a good sign for me.
Thanks, Marcy. 🙂 I love that feeling. It is a great marker for us to know we’re doing what we need to be as writers.