You would think after writing 250+ blog posts for the Sincerely, Spain blog I run with my friend, Claudia, I would have a pretty solid handle on defining what I want to talk about in a blog post and going about executing that. To an extent, I believe this is true. On the other hand, when it comes to Sincerely, Spain, Claudia and I set up a game plan of what we will write when months in advance. Of course, sometimes we change our minds and sometimes we write on the same general topic we intended to but take it in a different direction. More often than not, though, we stick to the plan.
What I’m finding with my author blog is that there are SO MANY things I want to talk about that when I sit down to start drafting one topic, I realize there’s another I want to discuss before that. This month alone I’ve started drafting three separate post (which, surely, I will share with you in the future). However, this is the one I’m feeling is most important right now because it’s been on my mind the longest.
Expect Multiple Genres from Me
Although I’m aware it’s much more common to stick to just one genre as a writer, I am already sure that I want to write across multiple genres. If you do any form of research on this topic, the results are very skewed—almost everyone will advise authors to stick to one specialty. Still, although I’m a rule-follower in almost all other aspects of my life, I feel quite confident that this is the one time I don’t want to stick to the roadmap.
Sure, the reasons for writing in only one genre are strong:
1.) It allows you to really hone your craft. You can invest all your time into the one style of writing you will produce, rather than lose time on styles you’re not as talented at.
2.) It allows you to grow one solid fan base. People who already know they like the kind of writing you’ve done in the past can be expected to purchase any and all new publications too.
3.) It makes you predictable—and people like predictable.
Essentially, people read Agatha Christie because they’re looking for a murder mystery and they feel they can depend on her to deliver this in a well-constructed package. If she were to have released a YA fantasy novel, people might have been confused and many of her readers would have been disappointed.
Okay, I get it. We’ve all complained when our favorite TV series got a new director and the season went in a different direction than we anticipated. We like to consume entertainment that is new, but only slightly new. We may try out a new series or read a different author for a change of pace, but when we return to something we liked in the past we want it to have all the positive characteristics we liked about it the first time. Hence, authors are expected to continue writing in the same genre to meet these expectations.
It makes sense but… Ugh! How boring can you be!?
I really enjoyed writing Fairly Familiar and I’m proud of this first book I’ve published. Still, if you’re telling me this means I can never write anything that doesn’t fit into the fiction, short stories, and/or literary fiction categories EVER again I should just quit right now!
Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that—I love writing far too much to give it up because there are expected limitations on what I can create. In fact, I love it so much that that’s exactly why I’m not going accept those limitations in the first place! I understand that if I switch to writing thrillers or self-help I may lose the interest of some of my current readership, but I also have faith that I’ll gain the interest of new readers too. Either way, I’m not convinced that the people who have read my first book only read books in that genre anyway.
Before sitting down to write this post, I did a little searching on the web to see if I was alone in this thinking and, thankfully, I did find evidence that there are other authors out there branching off into different genres. Some of the biggest names in the literary world like Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, and Stephen King are actually known for doing this! While it’s true that there has been more “backlash from fans” with authors like J.K. Rowling who were incredibly famous for a certain type of writing before they embarked on publishing in other genres, I’m not currently worried about that. Besides, I’m telling you NOW, before I reach J.K. Rowling levels, what you should expect from me 😉
Perhaps the most aligning beliefs I’ve found on this topic came from Brad Meltzer in a summary of an interview he did with Jessica Strawser of Writer’s Digest. The author was quoted to have said, “Anything that you work on, if you’re being honest, shows your personality in it” and I couldn’t agree more. However, we all have many facets to our personalities! That’s why I’m with Meltzer in believing that we should pursue our passion across multiple genres, not only in order to fulfill ourselves creatively, but because I believe it may awake a recognition of different facets in our readers too. As Meltzer explained, I have a feeling there’ll be more crossover in my readerships than the internet would have me think.
Let’s take me as a reader for example—
I’m currently reading a classic literary novel and a contemporary anthology of short stories. Most recently I read a contemporary fiction novel and next I plan to read a thriller. Some of my favorite books fall into the categories of YA fiction and dystopian science fiction. I’d also include a number of classics and some self-help books up there in my top ten. Point being, there are some genres I’m more likely to read than others, but if the story sounds interesting or—quite importantly—I trust the author, I will pick up just about anything!
The same thing goes for my TV and movie habits. As you might imagine, I really enjoy drama and am most drawn to relationship-driven entertainment like Gilmore Girls, Friends, Boy Meets World, and Parenthood. What you might not imagine is that I can get just as sucked into a good sports movie or documentary as I can into a high school rom-com. I l also love true crime and conspiracy documentaries—those are definitely what I find most interesting to discuss and dissect. When you combine all those quirky, totally unrelated interests, it makes sense that one of my all-time favorite series is Pretty Little Liars.
Essentially, I can find something I love about a lot of different genres when it comes to my entertainment choices. In general, I’m happy to find just one of the aspects I enjoy in each of my choices but it’s the coincidental convergence of many of my interests that really sparks something special for me. I have a feeling the same may be true for many of you.
So there you have it, those are my intentions as a new writer and I’m going to be transparent and upfront with you about them from the start. What do YOU think? Are my assumptions about your habits as a reader and consumer of entertainment based on my own valid or do you truly have just one genre you enjoy? Would you be annoyed if your favorite author decided to write in a different genre? Please share your thoughts in the comments!