Today I’m going to discuss ‘this or that’ writers.
Such writers should immediately do whatever is necessary to shirk that potentially income-limiting label. Of course, there are writers who choose to focus on a specific niche, m/m romance or pet mysteries, for example, and in that case, it is very, very good to be a ‘this or that’ writer, only you are now a specialty writer with high income potential. You have established yourself as an expert; people will seek out your work.
Since I’m discussing ‘this or that’ writers, I’m leaving specialty writers out of this, except to say that SPs write for one genre (and sometimes that genre’s subgenres), usually one they personally enjoy reading or found they have a knack for, and they have mastered their craft. An SP is like a neurologist or orthopedic surgeon. I am talking about the advantages of being a general practitioner.
A writer with skill, talent, and experience, can write almost any type of material. And unless you choose to be known as a genre writer, say romance or fantasy, you should make a concerted effort to write stories of all kinds and submit, submit, submit. Like an investor, you should build up a diversified portfolio, only instead of investments; your portfolio consists of writing samples.
Diversification makes it harder to attain a certain level of success, but it is worth it in the long run. And while it will probably take longer to become a ‘famous mystery writer’ or a ‘bestselling romance author’ if you diversify, the truth is that you will make more short-term money by not pigeonholing yourself. And I do believe that making a living from their art is the ultimate goal of most writers.
I have not penned any bestsellers as of yet, but I do make a living as a writer and have so for the past six years. The key to that being that I do not categorize myself and try to avoid letting others do so. I am a writer, period. Whether it’s advertising copy, web copy, screenplays, brochures, newsletters, newspaper and magazine articles, or fiction, I am available and experienced and ready to write. Potential employers do not look at my resume and think, ‘She only has experience writing comedy. We can’t hire her for this.’ Instead they think, ‘She has experience with all kinds of writing.’
An added bonus of exercising your writing talent is just that – you get some exercise! Play around with types of characters, plots and subplots, genres, styles, tones, and of course, words. you will only be a better writer for it. Making your brain twist and turn, overcome obstacles, and think – will make you a better specialty writer as well, if that’s your chosen path.
If you do decide to stick to a certain genre, one that really tickles, draws, and titillates you, all this exercise will just make your specialty that much stronger. And if you decide to write, write, write – everything from magazine features to op-ed pieces to BDSM erotica to cookbooks, you’ll find that there is nothing you can’t do.