• Rachel Paige

Carrots and Broccoli of Writing

Most writers have a specific genre they prefer to write in. Fantasy, middle grade, romance, science fiction, non-fiction, etc. Even within those genres, authors tend to have a "signature."


Rick Riorden has 6 series combining ancient mythology with modern day teenagers. Many of Andrew Clements books are about kids doing "adult" things like making new words and publishing a book. Gary Schmidt is known for writing middle-grade fiction that shows how hard life can be. Every Jodi Picoult novel follows such a consistent pattern that they become predictable.


It's natural. Authors tend to find a format and topics they enjoy writing about and are good at and stick to them. I know what I tend to write. You probably know the topics and themes you're drawn to.


And that's wonderful! That's probably exactly what you should be writing. But I want to encourage you to try to write something radically different than you usually do.


Here's why: all writing teaches you something and helps you grow. But, if you stay in your comfort zone and only write what you know and love, you'll plateau. It'd be like trying to eat healthy but only eating carrots and broccoli. Yes, they're good for you, but they can't be all you eat.


Similarly, you have to expand your writing diet. Maybe you really like carrots and first person POV. Maybe you have a lot of recipes for broccoli and ideas for science fiction. Maybe those are comfortable. Maybe that's where you feel successful.


But you need to do more than that. You cannot continue to grow as a writer with just carrots and broccoli.


You also need fruits and grains and meats and dairy because carrots and broccoli alone cannot give you all the vitamins and nutrients you need.


The genre you prefer to write cannot give you all the nourishment you need in your writing life.


Expand your palate. If you only write from first person, try third. If you only write young adult, try children or adult. If you only write fiction, try non-fiction. Only use human narrators? Write from the POV of an animal or inanimate object. Only write romance? Maybe try for a thriller.


It doesn't have to be good. You don't have to like it. You won't like every food you try. That doesn't mean they aren't good for you. That doesn't mean they aren't healthy. That doesn't mean they aren't helping you grow as a writer and cultivate skills that can help you write what you prefer better.


Variety is good in most aspects of life, and writing is no exception.



What are the carrots and broccoli of your writing? What's another genre, theme, or style you could try?

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