I have a story I’m working on as this gets published. As such, I won’t spend too much time on this random thought.
I took part in a Twitter chat session this past weekend about overcoming fear in writing. I shared a few things I’m fearful of. One of those fears, and thus the reason for this post, is writing outside my genre.
In case I haven’t mentioned this on my blog or Twitter or Facebook, I write short stories. And all those stories fall into the category of mainstream, or general, fiction. It’s what I’m most familiar with. But as I read Twitter bios and “About Me” pages on blogs, one thing stands out: how authors of multiple genres influenced what they wrote. I’m fascinated and, at the same time, feel this sense of shame. I didn’t read much except what was assigned in school. But it’s not to say I can’t start now. As I peruse bookstores, I look for books outside my “expertise.” But a writer I follow on Twitter, Nicole Rivera, told me that I shouldn’t read to “find” something; that I should absorb stories I like and see if it leads me to write in that genre. That’s a good point. Yes, we learn what works and what doesn’t in a particular story, but we shouldn’t strive to write our story the same way. Our stories are unique, and should be written as such.
What scares me about writing in a different genre is that it won’t be any good; that what I write will come off as too cliché. But a fellow writer reminded me of something: there will always be that fear of our writing not being any good, no matter the genre; that the important thing is to try. It’s true. I won’t know if what I write will be any good if I don’t jump in. And another piece of advice I received is to start small. Write flash fiction or short stories. Will there be clichés? Sure. But that’s why we have critique partners and beta readers: to learn about those clichés and discover ways to either avoid them or make them better.
I recently read a post about the progression of why writers write from when they started to today. In it, the author pointed out that when writers started writing, it wasn’t about making money or recognition; it was about having fun and experimentation. Even the most seasoned writers didn’t have an established formula. They experimented with different forms and genres. As I read that post, I thought about my stories of the heroic Detective Falcon in middle school. I thought about a story I wrote in the form of a journal that got published in junior college. I remembered writing a couple of romance stories as I pursued my degree in Creative Writing. I didn’t think half of them were any good, but it didn’t matter. I got joy out of writing them, and that’s what the post encouraged writers to get back to.
Looking back, I wish I experimented more with writing. It probably would take away some of the anxiety. But it’s not too late to try something new. I can get back to writing for fun, even if no one reads it. I can experiment and see if it fits me. Anything is possible.
But before I do, I have another story to finish.