I’ll be the first to admit that I like to stick to the tried and true – the things I know I can write well. Sometimes it means recycling ideas, but other times it means digging deep into your creativity and trying to find something new out of the old. Writing, however, is a craft that appreciates the new and different (even if that may not be as easy as it sounds. Some people you ask will say there are only so many plots to choose from anyway), and sometimes you have to take a dive into the deep end.
Every year, I do NaNoWriMo, and every year, I like to attempt something I never have before. One year it was a vague sciency-fiction type novel. Another year it was Young Adult fiction. It’s a good opportunity to try something you never have before to broaden your writing skills and stretch those typing fingers. Granted, things don’t always work out the way you plan them to, but luckily, that’s what editing is for.
The point of trying something new, whether or not it works out in your favor, is to learn new things about yourself. Maybe plotting isn’t your strong suit – write a mystery novel! Mystery novels take very strong plotting to be done right, so that could help you improve something about yourself. If characterization is your weak spot, try contemporary fiction where the characters are the star instead of the plot. It’s kind of like opening a bag of M&Ms and eating all the brown M&Ms first – sure, they may be your least favorite, but isn’t it good to get it out of the way first and then focus on the ones you really love?
Candy metaphors aside, trying new things can also be great learning opportunities for your wealth of knowledge. Pick a subject you know only a little about and then do the research. Aside from writing a great, detail-filled novel, you can also impress your friends with your knowledge about the lifespan of octopi.
I’m not saying abandon everything you know and love about writing, but take a chance, go out on a limb, and if you fall spectacularly, it’s okay. You’ve learned something, and becoming a better writing is all about learning.