A genre is a distinctive type or category of literary composition such as poetry, drama/play, essay, short story and novel. Writers, once published, are often reluctant to explore other genres because they believe they’ve found their niche. But being published shouldn’t stop you from experimenting with other genres of writing, because there are different techniques associated with these genres, and these techniques – once mastered – can even be used to make your niche genre more vibrant and expressive.
For example, Margaret Atwood, most famously known for her dark dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, is not only a novelist – she’s known as a poet, novelist, literary critic and essayist. According to her Wikipedia page, she has published “18 books of poetry, 18 novels, 11 books of nonfiction, nine collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, and two graphic novels.”
Here are some benefits of exploring new genres in writing.
1. Helps Overcome Writer’s Block
Nothing scares a writer more than the blank page (or the blank screen). The disturbing lack of words and the urge to simply abandon your stories can be overwhelming. While nobody truly knows what causes writer’s block—and some even dispute its existence—there are many ways in which we can compel ourselves to write.
Exploring new genres can rekindle your love of writing. When you can’t think of the perfect scene for your book – or when your imagination is stagnant – you can turn to something that doesn’t require you to exhaust your imagination but will still help you keep to the flow of writing. You can write a nonfiction piece centered around an incident that happened to you, or an essay that requires a bit of research.
But if your writer’s block completely prevents you from writing, regardless of the genre, trying out these techniques can help you fight it!
2. Helps You Explore New Aspects of Writing
When you want to explore different genres of writing, you must learn the different techniques that each genre requires. While these techniques are pretty simple to grasp for any accomplished writer, they’re important if you’re to develop your writing skills.
For example, poetry writing requires the poet to possess quite a unique worldview from other people. You learn how to master the art of description and to strengthen your imagery skills and poetic techniques. Unlike in prose, poetry is short and concise – you need to learn how to describe something in the most captivating way but also with the fewest words. That, in itself, is an art.
Script-writing, on the other hand, will improve your dialogue-writing skills and your ability to write action within dialogues, avoiding needless explanations. Short stories will help you craft a story within a given word limit, with a fast-paced plot, a strong beginning and ending. It helps you build characters whose immediate actions and thoughts play a more central role than pages upon pages of backstory.
While your primary goal may be to become a novelist – or to be known as one – exploring these different genres will help strengthen your novel, because you strengthen individual aspects of novel-writing one at a time.
3. Grows Your Platform
The more genres you explore, the more your audience grows. You attract readers who love all kinds of stories, and you will always have someone who looks forward to reading your work. You needn’t be afraid of losing your existing fans. Because, sometimes, you bring your old readers along with you when you experiment with genres. These are the readers who read your books not simply because they love your books, but because they love your way of writing.
“The key for me is that, when I seek a book by an author, I want that book to be a book nobody but that author could’ve written,” says author Chuck Wendig.
That is what a loyal fanbase looks like – a fanbase that will follow you along no matter what genre you choose to write in.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.