Writing in Multiple Genres

March 24, 2008 at 11:01 am | Posted in creativity, getting organized, Jessica, writing | 2 Comments
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Back in February, I found a post written by Lauren Baratz-Logsted on Juggling Genres and the thoughts she shared have been bouncing around in my head ever since as I try to process what she said and see how it applies to my own genre juggling.

I admit, I was relieved to hear how Lauren phrased her reasons for diversifying her writing because quite honestly I had begun to think that I suffered from Writer’s A-D-D. My brain just does not want to hunker down and stay fixed in one particular genre or on one particular project at a time . . . and I have been struggling with myself in wondering if I just lacked the discipline to focus on the work at hand or if my creativity tended to function better if I gave it some license to roam from one project to the next.

After reading Lauren’s argument and after thinking through some other advice I have received over the years, I acquiesce that perhaps I land with a foot in both camps. And I have concluded that having Writer’s A-D-D is not wholly a bad thing.

The good news is that I have more than one idea when it comes to the stories I want to tell. The well is well-stocked and the voices all compete for air time. I have suffered creative draughts at times in the past, and, speaking from that experience, the schizophrenia is a much more cherished problem to have!

I have found, too, that when things start to stall on one project I can switch gears and start on another. And that change in focus somehow helps kickstart ideas and a number of solutions flow in a way that would not have happened if I forced myself to jackhammer through the block. Switching between projects tends to free my thoughts.

I like, too, that I will have different projects to discuss with different industry professionals, when and if I have the opportunity. The pendulum in the industry swings in odd ways at unexpected times, and you never know how your variety of projects may fit into the market. But for me, I write what feels authentic rather than to write what’s hot right now.

There are some dangers I can foresee in starting more than one wip at a time and in more than one genre, especially for an unpublished author —

–I know of a number of colleagues who are great at conceiving of new and interesting book ideas and getting the intro and some bones down on paper. The books start off well and have great promise, but these writers get to chapter three and decide to start something else . . . then never get back to the project left behind. The danger here is in not finishing what is started. This is where Writer’s A-D-D is potentially very destructive. Without the pressure of a contract or a drop-dead deadline, an unpublished author’s flexibility in this instance can do more harm than good.

–Some additional advice for unpublished authors wanting to write in multiple genres is to be consistent with the first few projects you sell out of the gate. The goal is to build an audience with your author brand so that readers know what kind of story they will get when they purchase one of your books. The consistency will build readership and anticipation . . . and rolling out books in more than one genre can stall loyalty and momentum.

The reasoning in Lauren’s post struck such a chord with me — we each are complex creatures with many sides to our lives and personalities, so what is more natural for a writer than to want to explore all those facets of being human? It is an excellent way to keep the writing fresh and interesting for ourselves, which is something Bria will talk about on Wednesday.

For now, I will leave you with another helpful blog post from CopyBlogger on 3 Sure-Fire Steps For Beating the Content Blues. These tips are great for people who may suffer from some attention deficit with their writing. I hope they help and I hope you keep writing — and if you’re working on more than one project in more than one genre, we’ll be rooting for you to find success with all of them!

-Jessica

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2 Comments »

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  1. very interesting post, for me though I have learned I am one who suffers if they jump from wip to wip.

  2. Terra,
    Thanks so much for stopping by! I agree, writing more than one wip at a time isn’t for everyone and I think that coming to that knowledge about one’s self is just as important a tool as the other items in a writer’s tool kit. As Elizabeth Boyle mentioned in her post when she visited us, Writer, Know Thyself. Not everyone gets to that point of self-knowledge, so I think you’re way ahead of the game! Thanks again for sharing your insight.
    -Jessica


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