A few months ago, I started singing lessons. My instructor assigned me to learn “Royals” by Lorde, and over the next few weeks, we worked together on that song. Then one week, my instructor abruptly said, “Alright, we’re moving on to a new song.” I was a little baffled, since I hadn’t finished learning the entirety of Royals. When I asked my instructor about this, she said, “Vocal chords involve muscle memory, just like any other muscle in the body. If you work on the same song for too long, you’ll start to sing every song the same way, which will make you sound funky.”
This, of course, got me thinking about writing. Specifically, it made me think about writers who write in various genres, versus writers who write in a single genre. Now, this may just be a personal thing, but I have noticed that writers who write in diverse genres tend to develop their writing faster and better. I’ve noticed this in my critique groups, in indie authors, and even in some traditional authors.
So why is this? Well, I suppose it’s because every genre has something new to teach a writer. Personally, this is what I’ve learned from the genres I’ve written in:
Epic Fantasy– How to structure a story precisely and layer subplots.
Urban Fantasy–How to develop new, interesting worlds.
Paranormal Romance– How to build relationships between characters.
Dystopian–How to create political systems, both official and unofficial.
So when I started to write my first contemporary novel, Tone Deaf, I already knew how to do all these things. Even though Epic Fantasy is vastly different from Contemporary Romance, it helped me with my subplot of cancer in Tone Deaf. Even though Urban Fantasy is the opposite of Contemporary, it helped me create a fictional band that felt real. And so on, and so forth.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea for writers to experiment with multiple genres. There are tons of benefits, and not many drawbacks.
Of course, when publishing, you do have to worry about branding. It’s probably not a good idea to publish five standalone novels in five completely different genres, because it will confuse your readers about who you “are” as a writer. But when working up to publishing, I feel it’s wonderful to write in various genres. It will help you learn faster, research harder, read wider, and write better.