Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone (part 2): Changing genre

Hi, and welcome to the RADblog! I’m Rani Divine, back for the rest of the year to talk to you about whatever I choose. You’re at my mercy, friends. But don’t worry; we’ll have some fun.

For the next seven weeks, I’ll be talking to you about comfort zones, and why they’re both a good thing and a bad thing. We’ll also be looking at a few exercises I’ve come up with to help you get outside your comfort zone and to grow as the amazing writer you are. We’re all in a learning process, every step of the way.

So we’ve decided, by now, that though comfort zones can be a good thing, they’re also a thing that can be extremely detrimental to us, if we don’t keep ourselves in check. We need to keep going, keep growing, keep learning, so our craft will grow along with us and we’ll discover newer and newer versions of ourselves and our writing along the way. And today, we’re going to look at both my favorite and least favorite exercise, for getting outside those comfort zones.

 

Comfort Zones: Getting outside your genre

 

I love science fiction and fantasy. You probably know that, if you know anything about me at all. I only have one book I’ve written that doesn’t fall in these categories, and I’m literally dreading editing it. I’ve been holding off on editing it for years, because I don’t want to work with that hot mess. I just don’t. It’s not my genre, not my style, not my cup of tea—and though every single one of my beta readers loved it and wants me to edit it and publish it… I just don’t want to.

Why? Because it’s not my genre.

In part, I wrote that book because of this exercise, because I wanted to try to get outside my comfort zone and write something completely unlike anything I’d ever written before. And it is that. Very much so, in fact. I would also say that the writing is decent, only that it isn’t me, at all.

But that’s a part of why I want you to try this exercise.

 

Whatever genre you love, whatever genre is your favorite, whatever one you find yourself drawn to constantly, the one you write in whether you want to or not because all your ideas fit snuggly into this lovely little genre… ditch it. Just for a while.

I’m not saying you should never go back to that genre. No! In fact, I’m not even saying you should spend as long as I did, on your adventure. What I’m saying is that you should try it, and learn to be proficient in it. Learn to better your writing skills, in a genre you don’t normally write. Learn to write, in a way you generally don’t enjoy.

Why? Because you might need it, later on down the line.

 

Have you ever noticed how genres really meld into one another, how each genre really has elements of five or six genres worked into it? Romances have thrills and adventure, science fictions have histories and mysteries, fantasies are filled to the brim with romance, intrigue, and even cowboys. No one genre can fully describe any single book. Not one. Which is why you need to be good at writing genres you don’t enjoy writing, because someday you may need to.

Someday, you may be plugging along in your historical comfort zone, and wake up to realize there’s a romance blooming right under your nose—and you have no idea how to write two people who are falling in love. What do you do? How do you resolve that? Well, you could’ve fixed it to begin with by using this exercise, by writing romances from the start, just little stories here and there that teach you how two characters fall in love. And that might just be what you have to do now, because practice makes better (or so my brother always said, since perfection doesn’t really exist).

 

And that, my dear writers, is why I challenge you to write outside your comfort zone. Write in time periods you’re not used to, write with archaic words and newfound ones your characters made up. Write in ways you never imagined yourself writing, so you know you have the skill waiting for you, when the need arises.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.