Today’s post is an excerpt from Ready, Set, Write: A Guide to Creative Writing. This is from a chapter titled “Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone,” which encourages you to try new forms and genres of writing.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to explore a completely new form of writing? Are you willing to challenge yourself and get creative by trying something new?
Many writers specialize in a specific form, genre, or niche. Fiction writers are concerned with plot, character, and setting, and they focus on their genre, whether it’s mystery, romance, or fantasy. Poets are consumed with form, language, musicality, and imagery. Essayists focus on the topics they write about.
Sure, some of us explore various types of writing, but how deeply are we willing to immerse ourselves into unfamiliar waters?
When novelists experiment with poetry, they are likely to improve their vocabulary, bring better imagery into their stories, and craft sentences with improved flow and rhythm. When poets experiment with essays, they learn how to approach their subjects from a different angle, broadening their perspectives. And when essayists try their hands at writing fiction, they learn how to bring the power of narrative into their work.
As an added bonus, working in different forms, even if only briefly, often rejuvenates your creativity, bringing new ideas to the forefront.
When we lodge ourselves inside a comfort zone, our work can become stale or feel formulaic, and our inspiration can dry up. That why it’s beneficial to read and write a little bit of everything. That doesn’t mean if you’re passionate about science fiction that you have to start reading just as much poetry and nonfiction, and it doesn’t mean if you’re a poet that you have to divide your time equally between crafting poems and creating stories. But occasionally, you can take a little time to check out some other types of writing, both as a reader and as a writer.
Below, you’ll find a few activities that will prompt you to explore unfamiliar territory in your writing. Choose a type of writing that you’ve never attempted before, or choose something you’ve only dabbled in. Pick a form or genre that you’ve struggled with in the past. Just pick something that you haven’t mastered, and then dive in. It won’t take long:
- Write a piece of flash fiction under a thousand words.
- Write a hundred-word poem.
- Write a thousand-word topical essay.
- Compose a newspaper column.
- Write three pages of a script.
If you’re not ready to try a completely new form of writing, then expand within your preferred form. If you write horror stories, try writing a piece of contemporary fiction. If you write free-verse poetry, try writing a few form poems. If you write personal essays, try writing a response essay or a descriptive essay.