We all have a comfort zone in life – and in our writing. And people often talk about pushing outside of it. But with writing, people (as in readers) are pretty accepting of the comfort zone. We don’t mind that Stephen King has found his groove in horror, or that Jane Austen only wrote romantic stories set in the Georgian society she inhabited.
Me, I love writing fantastical fiction be it sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy etc – and it’s what I love reading too. But recently I’ve been trying to read outside of the comfort zone of my favourite genres. And it go me thinking about writing outside of my comfort zone too. It may not suddenly start you on a different writing path, but it could be a good way to stretch and round out your writing skills. And there are two ways to go about it.
Writing in a different genre
This is simple (to explain anyway, maybe less to do). Whatever genre you usually write, try another one. If you’re not sure which, put some options in a metaphorical hat, pick one and give it a whirl. You don’t have to show the results to anyone so don’t be afraid to go all-in. Just remember to be true to the spirit of the genre. If you write a pastiche, you’re not really going to achieve anything.
Writing in a different format
I think a lot of writers do this especially when starting out, but there’s no reason you can’t try this at any stage of your writing career. Writing for different formats can help hone different parts of your writing technique. The rhythm (and potentially rhyme) of poetry can make you focus on how to condense ideas and themes. Script-writing requires a keen ear for dialogue. Short stories need you to build characters with a limited amount word count.
Those are my thoughts on your writing comfort zone – have you tried it before? What did you learn? Please share in the comments.