Coming Home: Is Your Genre Right for You?

Two weeks ago I moved to a new house. It was an uprooting, unsettling experience in many ways. I felt homesick for my old place where I’d been for so many years. And it made me think–once the dust had cleared–that sometimes you don’t know where your true home is until you leave it.

I think writing is a little like that, too. Writers have their “home” style, the one they feel comfortable in. But is it the right one? Maybe sometimes you need to investigate the market a little. Here are my top tips for re-affirming or discovering a new writing style.

 

1. Try a whole new area.

Children’s writer? Try a little horror. It doesn’t have to be something you even attempt to publish. Writing something completely out of your comfort zone, just to see if you can, can be exhilarating.

 

2. Make a few home improvements.

If you’re sure the style or genre you work in is right for you, or if you’re too committed to a long term project to be able to really branch out, then try adding some subtle changes. Write from a different point of view, try a whole chapter in a different tense. Change things up, then see which ones you want to keep.

 

3. Get to know your neighbors.

Writing groups (online or in real life) often get a bad name for themselves as places where bad criticism thrives. But all feedback can be good feedback. Introduce yourself to a few communities, open up your work for comment. You can always retreat back behind your front door later if need be.

 

4. Know when it’s time to go back home.

If you step out of your style and try something new, there’s every chance you’ll flourish. Maybe it will take your career in an exciting and new direction. But maybe it will only serve to show you that home was right in front of you all along.

I think there is such a thing as a writing “home,” a place where we feel safe. But sometimes, our world needs to be shaken in order for us to discover the best in ourselves.

 

Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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