Try Something New

Thursday, February 02, 2012

What to write based on my latest research?

How often do you try something new with your writing?  I don’t mean a new characterization exercise or a new plotting technique.   How often do you write something that is unlike what you’ve written before?

It was easy when I was beginner.  After all, I hadn’t written anything other than term papers.  Then I took a class and tried my hand at picture books, taking them to a local critique group. When an editor asked for authors to write nonfiction for her horse magazine, I said yes.  At that point, I wasn’t a fiction author or a nonfiction author.  All I knew was that I wanted to write for kids, and tweens were this magazine’s audience.

Soon, I found myself drawing on my background in history to write breed profiles, which are histories of specific horse breeds.  Once I built up my equestrian knowledge, I wrote how-tos and science based articles for this magazine as well.

But my comfort zone was still history so I pitched a piece of historical nonfiction about Gertrude Ederle to READ.  The editor liked the idea, but could only use it if I could do it as readers theater.  No problem!  Well, maybe only one.  I’d never written readers theater.  Soon I was reading both on swimming the Channel and writing plays to be read aloud in a classroom setting.  It was well worth the time when the piece sold.

By trying something new, I’ve earned dozens of writing credits composing how-tos for my fellow writers, nonfiction for use as testing passages, craft and recipe how-tos for children,  prayers for women and even book reviews.

Not that it always works out.  Video scripts?  Not my thing.  Early elementary material?  My own style falls naturally into about the 7th grade reading level so writing for kindergartners and first graders is a battle.  Poetry?  I have fun with it, but write it only as a warm up exercise, never for sale.

Why not try something new with your own writing?  If you’re a fiction writer, try writing a piece of nonfiction.  It could be a how-to, a recipe or an essay.  If you write for women’s magazines, do you have something you could write up for a boys magazine?  If you normally write for young children, why not try writing about them?  Maybe you have an idea that would be perfect for a parenting magazine.

Come on. Stretch.  Try something new.  You may find a talent you didn’t know you had.


Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.


Sioux Roslawski said...

SueBE--This was a wonderful post. Not only did you offer some marvelous suggestions, but you also gave us some tidbits about your personal experience, which was enjoyable to read. Thanks.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for the feedback! I'll definitely keep it in mind when writing future posts.

Margo Dill said...

Sue, I remember when I first started writing I was ONLY going to write fiction for children. HA! :) I joined a critique group and they encouraged me to enter contests for other genres and for other age groups and NONFICTION too! :) It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I think a well-rounded writer is the best kind, and doing other types of writing actually helps your main passion.

Kimberley said...

Interesting timing. I just asked my daughter today if she was interested in writing a children's book with me (she is 13 and a budding artist). The thought makes me nervous, but it will be fun to do with her.

Mary Sayler said...

Good article! I write in all genres, but my first writing love is poetry, so the new-for-me project was to write a couple of life-health encyclopedias :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I think you get the prize for genre jumping. Good for you! You've challenges us all.

LuAnn Schindler said...

Great ideas, Sue. I primarily write non-fiction - I'm a journalist - but I also enjoy writing poetry. Right now, I'm stretching my limits by writing a documentary script. I'm not always sure I know what I'm doing, but I've jumped in and will make it work!
What a great challenge. :)

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