I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but it’s certainly not for lack of interest. Right now it’s a simple time issue. I hope next year may be on my radar. But if I do try NaNoWriMo, I want to take a totally different approach.
I want to try writing outside my present genre.
You see, sometimes our best skills may not be what we expect or even want them to be. Years ago I worked at a newspaper where I did everything from writing to layout and design. I also had to cover sports games, which frankly I hated. But it was part of the gig. Not only did I have to write about those darn games, but I had to take photos to run with the articles.
Turns out I had a knack, albeit a reluctant one, for sports photography, especially fast-action shots. Folks came to the newspaper office and even wanted to buy my photos, which felt just plain weird. And, irony of ultimate ironies, I even won the sports writing category in a journalism contest a few years ago.
The last thing I want to do is go work for Sports Illustrated, but the point is, I would not have even known about this sports, ummm, knack had I not been forced to do it (I kinda wanted a paycheck!)
Now, I’m certainly not dangling anything above your head now except two little words…
What if writing something out of your niche or comfort zone means the difference between midlist or bestseller?
What if it means the difference between a rank of 300,000 on Amazon, or hitting the top 100?
What if even dipping a toe into unfamiliar waters means you meet people you might not otherwise meet, maybe even someone who can give your writing career a serious jump-start?
Maybe you’re a good western writer, but you’d be a great mystery author. But you don’t know because you’ve never tried it. Like me and sports writing, maybe you’ve simply never clicked with mysteries. You don’t buy ’em and you don’t read ’em. You certainly don’t want to write ’em.
I’m not saying you should deliberately choose a genre you dislike. Just that you should look at other options and not rule out anything, unless you have a moral or ethical objection to a subject.
In fact, if there’s another genre you do like that you haven’t tried writing in yet yourself, why not give it a spin in 2013?
If that’s too daunting, how about simply taking a bit of risk by trying nonfiction if you’re a novelist, or a hand at fiction if your daily beat is a newspaper?
If your goal is to exercise more in the New Year, why not include your brain in the deal?