Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stepping outside your writing comfort zone

Recently I thought of what I think is a pretty damn good idea for a book. The idea started from a spark then after numerous emails from some of my closest writing friends the spark ignited into a wildfire. I couldn't stop thinking about this book idea. My fingers itched to hit the keys. All I could think about were these character and their story. Excited bloomed inside me just thinking about telling their story. Behind that excited hid a healthy does of fear as well. You see, this idea is completely different than anything I've ever done before. It combines sub genres I've never written. It will take research on subjects I've never written about and honestly, don't know a lot about.

Still, the excitement overcame the fear. I love this idea.

I sat down at the computer and started a little bit of the research. It made my eagerness to start the book continue to grow. Once I decided I was ready to sit down and start writing...nothing. I have one page of the book and I can't get anymore out. I don't know what it is. The idea is still so alive inside me yet it won't come out. I start a paragraph and delete. I turn on the computer, then shut it down. I just can't seem to make the story come out.

Is it because this story is so different for me that I mentally built a roadblock? Do I fear stepping outside my comfortable writing zone so much that I'm setting myself up to fail? I'm not sure. I hope not because I don't want to be that person who can only write one thing. Yes I want to feel comfortable and excel in my primary genre of writing but I also want to spread my wings.

Was it difficult for you the first time you tried writing something completely different? Do you write different genres or stick to one?


Regina Carlysle said...

OMG...I just wrote you a looooong response and the whole thing disappeared. ACK!

I know how you feel, Kell. This happens to me all the time and I imagine it's pretty common.I wrote Feral Moon (a paranormal m/m/f/m) when I was stuck on another WIP. I'd always written contemp. or historical but had never tried paranormal OR menage. I was in a slump. Completely stuck and Anny Cook suggested a little writing challenge to get me out of it. Four days later, I'd finished Feral Moon.

You can do it, Kell. I know the story is there in your head. Just pick a character and start. Try to relax. Sometimes those ideas come so fast they jumble up. Pick one thing out of the jumble and write.

Elle Parker said...

I absolutely can sympathize - I'm in this spot right now.

Well, actually, I'm a few steps behind you. I haven't, yet, sat down to try to write any of the novel. I'm still looking forward to it, but I fear the same result.

Hell, I'm having that problem with the other novel I'm working on, and that's a sequel.

The best advice I can give to anyone in that spot is "Write it Bad". That's my mantra: "Write it bad, write it bad, write it bad"

You can always fix things in editing, and usually, once you get start writing better stuff.

~~Elle Parker

Viv Arend said...

I had this happen at Christmas. All I wanted to do was write a water shifter, and it was going so well until...bam...another fellow showed up on the beach and wanted to join the fun.

My hero and heroine are rock solid already, they have this deep connection but will the newcomer take a hike?


I was stuck for a week until my CP said 'you know, until you make up -your- mind the poor heroine can't make up hers'.

It turned into a very lovely menage, something I had no intention of writing and was uncomfortable with at first.

Tidal Wave will be released by Samhain in July, so it must have worked!

Kelley Nyrae said...

Reg, I hate it when that happens to my replies! I remember when you went through this and ended up with Feral Moon. That gives me hope! The thing is, I'm subborn when a story speaks to me and somehow, some time, I will tell Annelise and Gabe's story. I'll make it work somehow.

Kelley Nyrae said...

My editor always says, "crap can be fixed. WRITE!" I've done that before. I started a book and just kept going even though it wasn't right. I knew I'd figure it out. A chapter in, I knew what it was. I started from the wrong place. Once I figured that out, easy as pie :)

Kelley Nyrae said...

Congrats, Viv! That's great. Hopefully I'll be able to say the same thing with this one.

Amy Ruttan said...

I genre hop. I heard you shouldn't and it got me worried but then I realized I the tie that binds the stories are the hotness.

If I stray out of the really hot stuff into straight forward historicals then yeah my name will change.

Emma Lai said...

I break rules all the time! I definitely write all over the place. I write for me first. I have to get those stories out of my head before they drive me crazy! Then after the story is written I send it to my critique partners to see if it's something I can pitch. With the access to a wide variety of publishers and the ability to change pen names at will, no one should worry about switching genres. Remember, we're supposed to be having fun!

Kelley Nyrae said...

It's not that I worry about it. This book is still contemporary at heart but there are other...different elements that time in some sub genres. Even still, I don't worry about writing it, it's just that I'm struggling with making it come out right now. Not sure if I should look at it from a different angle or just let is simmer in my brain a bit more...

Anne Rainey said...

When I wrote my vampire romance, A Diamond at Midnight, it was difficult because I didn't want to let people down. It's a favorite genre and there was a lot of pressure to do a good job. The story actually came pretty quickly and it was fun, but it's so different from what I love to write, contemporary, that I'm not sure I'll write more.

If I may give a suggestion. If the story is THAT different for you, it may help to read others who write the genre. Spark your muse that way. :)

Kelley Nyrae said...

I agree, Anne!

Anny Cook said...

Instead of worrying about the completed work... just do a jumpstart. Write whatever is in there. Don't worry about beginnings or endings or any of that stuff. Just write. It might be that your jumpstart will actually end up in the middle. Just write.

Almost every book I've written has been the product of a jumpstart. It allows me a "settling" period--a time when I can actually try out the ideas without that pressure to accomplish a complete work.


If it actually goes beyond the jumpstart, you'll feel more comfortable with it in the end.

Genella deGrey said...

What I write always begins with historical romance. Whichever sub-sub-genre it turns into from there is up to the story.

Some of my stories flow from my pen faster than others, but I love what I write. Always have.


Anonymous said...

Gosh, I must be loopy.  I just lost everything I wanted to say.I am so right there with you.  I recently went through the same exact thing. 
I ended up jumping out of bed and writing out a time line. Then not look or touch what I wrote for a week later.  I distanced myself because I was SCARED...I admit I become a wimp when I don't know the genre.  However, something kept nagging at me.  Therefore, I ended up ordering three books to research and wrote up a time line and I'm working on the first chapter.
Keep pushing your boundaries, it's the only way to see what you're truly made of.