Pretty much everyone is aware that the publishing industry is changing. Right now, with the advent of self-publishing and the high demand for content from the internet, writing has more avenues to explore than ever before. From a professional standpoint, a writer has to wear lots of hats to make a living in their chosen profession. It’s rarely enough to be a novelist now. Instead, most of the writers that I know are doing freelancing, script-writing, small market writing, and also writing their novels.
But, what does that have to do with someone that’s still in the beginning stages of their craft? That isn’t sure if they want to be a professional? Can other types of writing help them in any way or should they continue writing the Great American Novel? Well, let’s look at the ways that exploring different modes of writing can help.
Creativity feeds on itself.
Creative pursuits don’t exist in a vacuum. Nearly any creative thing that you do will affect other creative activities. Stretching your writing skills by trying new things can have benefits to your current work, even if you discover that you don’t care for the new thing.
Keeping yourself accountable is easier.
If you’re a writer with a blog or someone who is attempting to freelance, then you know exactly what I mean. The feeling of posting something for people to read (rather than just having it chill out on your hard drive) is both terrifying and wonderful. I’ve lost count of how many times I wanted to quit this blog and how I couldn’t bring myself to do it because people care about what I have to say. That accountability has made me strive to be a better writer and to explore subjects that I would never have explored before.
You might find something you love.
For a lot of years, I banged my head against the idea of ‘Writing A Novel’. I didn’t feel as though anything else ‘counted’ as writing. I failed repeatedly. Each time, I wrote anywhere from 18k to 20k and then I would give up. I felt like a failure. No wonder it was so hard for me to see myself as a writer!
It really wasn’t until I gave short stories a chance that I finished anything. Suddenly, I was seeing the whole story, rather than just the beginning. I was able to learn how to roll with the proverbial punches that my narrative threw my way. I was telling stories and solving problems. Now, I’m further along in a novel than I’ve ever been before and I have confidence that I can finish it.
It helps you communicate in different ways than you’re used to.
A few of you might know about this already, but ever since November of last year, I’ve kept a daily journal. Each day, I find a poem or a speech that I love and I write it down in this journal. Not only has this journal become something amazingly personal, but it has also taught me how to communicate in an entirely different way.
I’d never really been into poetry or speeches or anything like that until I started this journal. I never understood how powerful ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou was until I wrote it down. I never understood the beauty of Langston Hughes’ words or that Louisa May Alcott wrote poetry about fairy circles while working on ‘Little Women’. Now, I love poetry and have readings at my house fairly often. Best of all, sometimes my mind surprises me with small things that explain how I feel in a way that I never imagined it would. Things such as this poem that came to me last night:
Let’s have a conversation,
You and I.
We’ll string poetry from the stars,
And illuminate the dark spaces
Within our hearts.
Finding that you’re capable of something new and unexpected is one of the best feelings you can have as a writer.