We all have our comfort zones, the type of pieces we enjoy writing, that we have an easier time of writing then others. Whether it is prose, poetry, or non-fiction, writers tend to stick with one thing and go. Within those broad mediums, there are a host of possibilities, and we tend to gravitate toward things we like, that hold our interest as writers. This is good, because nothing makes for terrible writing like an author being bored of their subject.
There’s actually a good case for this, if you are trying to build a reputation as a writer. It’s a good idea to build up a base, and to get familiar with a style. If you are a fantasy writer and looking to break into that market, it’s a good idea to write a lot of fantasy. Same goes for romance, horror, and science-fiction. Want to get better at poetry, better start writing a lot of lines.
Here’s the thing though: it is also useful to write outside your comfort zone, to branch out into other genres and other mediums. Working on a novel? Take a break and maybe write short piece of flash fiction. Mainly write short stories? Why not try to write a poem? Maybe you normally write horror, so why not try and write a romance instead?
So the question becomes, why do this? Why branch out? One reason is if you are currently feeling “stumped” on a piece you are writing and not sure where to go with it. By working on an unrelated piece, and one that is outside your usual “box” you can go back to the original with fresh eyes and a new start. If you are between writes, branching out can help cleanse the palate, help you get a fresh perspective and help move you along from old to new.
You can also incorporate different elements into your main body of work. Writing a humor piece can help you inject some of that into your main work. Trying out a romance story can help you figure out how to introduce a subplot to that novel you are working on.
Of course, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to branching out is “Where do I start?” Well, here there is good news. There are plenty of writing prompts out there for you to explore.
So what’s your comfort zone? What added benefits do you think there are to branching out? What’s one thing that you would never write?