I had hit a wall. A writing wall. A bad one. My stories weren’t going anywhere and it was weighing me down. Some days I could feel it as a weight on my shoulders, leaving me stooped over. I’d have to make a conscious decision to straighten my back. Like I said, it was bad. I didn’t want to stop writing. It was my outlet in a house overrun by small hands and messy floors. Which begs the question: are you really a writer if you can’t write?
It was at a monthly writer’s group – of which I am the nominal group leader – that I had an epiphany. It was simple question asked by one of the members.
“Why don’t you change genres? At least for a little while.”
I sat back in my seat, floored. I’d never thought of it. Never conceived of it, really. I wrote sci-fi and fantasy. Read it too and had since I was a young whipper snapper. But I wasn’t writing anymore. I could feel my author bona fides slipping away into the night. I thought long and hard about it. And, in an act of desperation, I switched genres.
Well, I didn’t rewrite my current story into a new genre. Nope. I started out fresh. I chose cozy mysteries because – and this is a bit selfish – my mother has a serious stash of reading material at home. I had plenty of research for free. All I had to do was visit her for a while – not that I minded, I love visiting my mom – and pick up a stack of books.
I was too late though. She’d packed up the books, sold what she could, and donated the rest. Apparently she had taken my advice to “get into the 21st century” to heart and transferred her whole library into electronic format. After a nice visit I slipped off to visit the other library. You know, the public one.
The public library is a place of great comfort. It has everything you could ever need under one roof. Kind of like a Walmart for the mind and soul. Anyway, I dove into the cozy section with – well not glee, that’s for sure – but determination. If I was going to switch genres, I was going to do a darn tootin’ good job of it.
I read Nancy Atherton and Laura DiSilverio. I read Jennifer Chiaverini and Alan Bradley. I read Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (again). And a new favorite: Louis Penny. That’s one talented writer. I try not to be jealous of her use of detail. I also read a dozen or so others which I can’t remember at the moment. I steeped myself, people.
And you know what? It worked.
Seriously. I am now in editing of Spilled Ink, my first cozy mystery. I changed genres and magic happened. Oh I’ll go back to sci-fi and fantasy – my next series is an urban fantasy – but the jump into another genre got me out of the rut I’d been in. It opened my eyes to endless possibilities. I learned techniques that I can use in other stories to give them twists and turns I wouldn’t have conceived of using before. But now I can.
Changing genres saved my writing. Go try it. It might save yours too.