Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why You Should Mix It Up - A Writing Journal

Most writers want to improve their writing in then hopes of getting published. We sit at our computers, writing and rewriting... and rewriting. We get feedback from readers, we read endless amounts of writing blogs and advice posts, all to improve our craft.

What most of us tend to do is stick to a specific genre and style, and only write in that way. Practice makes perfect, right?

Maybe not. Maybe only writing fantasy stories, or only writing in first person won’t makes us improve. Sometimes, doing something completely new will help us more.

Why? Well that’s because writing is full of transferable skills. What you learn on one project can be applied to other projects. However, if all of your projects are the same, you aren’t learning or developing any new skills. For example, I’ve personally learned that changing the format of your story can teach you a lot. So instead of always writing a novel, try a short story, poem, or even a screen-play.

Writing poems can teach you how to make stronger metaphors and help you develop your imagery skills. Poems aren’t always straight-forward. Most poems usually have a deeper meaning. When you are writing a novel, the skills you learn from poetry can help you add some symbolism or specify your theme.

Writing a short story trains you to only point out important details, but also to make every word count. Novels leave a lot of room for detail and description, but these aren’t always needed and can bore a reader. Short stories teach us how to be aware of what we’re telling the reader, and help us from droning on about things that do not move the story forward.

Even writing a script for a short film or movie can teach us prose writers a thing or two. Scripts require all the dialogue to be interesting and realistic while moving the story forward. Scripts also have rigid plot structure. For those of us whose novels wander in the middle, scripts can teach us how to stay on track.

Even if you don’t want to learn a whole new format of writing, changing your genre is a good first step. Mystery helps us learn the importance of foreshadowing and planting clues. Horror teaches us how to create suspense and have a strong atmosphere in our novel. Romance teaches us how to write relationships and interactions between characters. Fantasy helps us to stretch our imaginations and see all possibilities.

You won’t learn all these skills if you keep writing the same thing over and over again. This is why every writer should make a genuine effort to mix up their writing and try new things at least once.

Don’t just stick to learning about YA literature. Read about writing scripts, poems, and short stories as well. Storytelling is universal, and these skills will make you a better writer. So go write some mystery, romance, and horror. Write a children’s book. Make a short film. Mix it up and watch your writing improve.

Stuck in a writing slump? Mix it up all the time? Leave a comment below!

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