Thursday, April 26, 2012

Labeling Yourself as a Writer. Is it Important?


There’s nothing better than diving into a new WIP. The excitement that bubbles in your stomach, the insomnia that comes from a constant stream of thoughts and ideas banging around in your head, the feeling of “Maybe this will be the one.”  It’s refreshing and fun to find a new voice and get to know your new MC. Words have been pouring out of me the last 24 hrs and it was hard to tear myself away long enough to write this post! 

Love. This. Feeling. (I know you guys know exactly what I mean)

I’m not one of those people who work on more than one project at a time. Once I’m focused on a story, I’m in it until it’s done. But what I’m curious to ask is how many of you switch genres when choosing a new WIP?

I’ve got a dear friend who is more versatile than anyone I know. Her first book is a hilarious Contemporary Romance. Then she dove into a Heavy Fantasy. Her latest? A YA Horror.

My first book straddled the line between High and Urban fantasy. My second book is strictly Urban Fantasy. Now, I’m dabbling with a Contemporary. (Yes, I’m writing the Ballet one… don’t know why I’ve waited so long! The YA Historical with have to wait) But what’s funny is that now I’m thinking of how I could put a cool paranormal twist on it.

Am I strictly a fantasy writer? I don’t know. I know it’s what I’m drawn to. What I like to read. What naturally comes from my soul. I think it’s healthy to try your hand at different things, but is it important to label yourself as a writer?

You know, how they say on American Idol: “You need to know who you are as an artist.”

Or is it different in writing? How many authors are successful in multiple genres? Or is it best to just pick one and stick with it? What are your thoughts? I’d really love to know.

Red. Head. Out. :D 

47 comments:

  1. I don't think you have to stick with just one genre - as an artist, you've got to continually learn and grow. However, I do think if there's a genre you really love (like fantasy), it might be a good idea to stick with it for a while. One, because you'll learn with each project and grow within that genre. Two, because you want to build a readership. If your first published book is an urban fantasy, you might want your second to be a fantasy of some sort, too, so the same readers will come back for more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My interview with Tricia Lawrence is up, and yours was one of the questions I passed along! You can find it here!

      Delete
  2. I've read some really good articles and blog posts on this subject, and the consensus seems to be that it is easier to build a fanbase if you stick to one genre. It is a lot more work to switch genres as it is almost like starting from scratch promoting your work. However, I think it is important to write what you are passionate about, for that is when the best writing happens.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yay for words pouring! Keep it up. :)

    I want to write books from all different genres. I'm currently working on a YA sci-fi, and started work on a YA romance/re-telling. After reading Kristin Cashore's GRACELING books, I could honestly see myself diving into fantasy. I wouldn't rule out just about any type of book now. I think that's what I find most exciting about writing——the possibilities! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've just written science fiction so far but I might dive into fantasy once my next book is finished.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Morgan, I think if a writer has the talent, she (or he) should branch out. I don't think we should have to label ourselves as one type of writer. For instance, John Grisham is known for his legal thrillers, but my daughter and I love his down-home stories, such as A Painted House, instead. He has even branched out and written a middle grade novel, which I enjoyed also. So, yeah, use that talent in any way you can. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think artistic identity is probably more important from a marketing standpoint, which is to say after the story is written. In that way, I'd say write first and worry about where you/it fits later.

    That being said, there is probably some value in 'knowing' what kind of author you are going into a draft. It'd make the backend stuff easier, I'd think.

    Publishers will definitely want to know who you are as an artist, because readers like to know. But there are so many avenues for getting your work to the masses these days, I'm not sure it's as important. Write what you love to read is my mantra. : )

    ReplyDelete
  7. First, I think the American Idol line of "You need to know who you are as an artist" is crap. How many artists do you know who change their sound and stay successful? Look at bands like No Doubt and Bon Jovi, who sound ENTIRELY different at the end of their careers than they did at the beginning, but still rocked and sold millions of albums (I know Bon Jovi's still kickin... but the point stands).

    Second, I agree with you. Artists of any kind can be flexible and can be successful in many genres. It's a marketing nightmare, sure... but that can easily be fixed with a pen name, no?

    Anyway. I think this is a topic that is over-stressed. Everybody needs to just be cool :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I understand why agents put an emphasis on sticking in a genre. But I think most writers have a hard time staying in one. Write what feels true to you. don't limit yourself. I think a individuals we have certain styles and likes and in most cases our writing will reflect that. whether in the genre, subject, themes or voice and readers will find those similarities.

    I have been editing for far. Too. Long. I need some of that shiny new idea excitement. I'm scared to try again though. What if it doesn't come this time. That's the regular writer paranoia, right?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Woot woot! Your story sounds exciting. I'm kinda torn on this topic. On one hand, I think it's great for writers to branch out, BUT for me I tried writing in a few different genres and they didn't click until I found THE ONE. The other one's voices didn't sound right and I didn't like what I had written. Once I kinda gave up on writing what other people expected me to, my writing has been a lot better. So, yeah, I think it's good to try new things, but I also think some "voices" are easier for each writer. Make sense?

    Also, I now have this song stuck in my head thanks to you and your second sentence in this post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJGoWkeGBBY

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love that new WIP feeling!

    About genres - I just don't know lol. I think some writers can write many genres well, but I don't think I'm one of them! I say if writing different genres is what you want to do, you should go for it!

    ReplyDelete
  11. There are a lot of successful writers who branch out into different genres. Some use psedonyms; others use the same name. If you have a desire to branch out and try your hand at different things, then by all means do it! You never know what could come of it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I totally understand this because I don't just write one genre. Heck, I don't read just one why would I want to write just one?

    That's why my hope is for me name to be my brand and not any particular genre.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Funny, I've been reading a LOT of posts related to this very subject lately. I wrote a little children's picture book story a while back and my husband really wants me to submit it, but I'm nervous about getting into publishing that way when I have so many ideas for YA books in my head. A couple high fantasies, a couple paranormal fantasies, and a mystery-ish fantasy too.

    I love fantasy. If I had to classify myself I'd say that's what I am - a YA fantasy writer. Like you, that's where my heart lies and what I like to read. I think it's good to do lots of different things, but at the same time when we write what we love things tent to have the same feel... does that make sense? I feel like all my stories are going to have some similar elements - namely, the ones I like :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the excitement of a new story developing.

    With regard to labeling yourself as a writer, I think this is more of an issue when your trying to sell your work. As an unpublished/pre-published writer, I'd like to think that we can (and should) write in whatever genre calls us at that moment. Once you've built your body of work, you'll be able to identify which area you're strongest in. The label or niche will follow.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Morgan!

    I'm so happy I spotted your blog on FaceBook. Beckee has told me about all the exciting things you've been writing. You might not know this about me but I have always claimed myself as a dancer who writes. My minor in college was Creative Writing and sometimes I loved it more than my some of my dance classes. I thought it was so interesting that you are debating genre's. I did the same thing. I thought I was a fantasy person because of my geeky side: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc...But I found my writing to be....I guess to plain for fantasy. Then I took a creative non-fiction class and it was my favorite out of all my writing classes! So one day I'm thinking about pushing myself into Literary Journalism. But that's me. I think being an artist isn't about limitting your self to a label but letting what moves you dictate what your next project is. I'm going to follow your blog now!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mdog, it amazes me how many comments you get on blog posts. What's your secret? Being the sweetest human being on Earth?

    J. Dog. Out. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bah! I guilt people into commenting. And this is nothing. Pop over to Alex Cavanaugh's blog--he gets a 100 comments in a blink, LOL. ;)

      Delete
    2. LOL... It's probably because of those giant stalker sunglasses and legwarmers...

      Delete
  17. I say why limit yourself? Write about what interests you. Write stories that you would want to read. I've written women's fiction, YA horror, and my current WIP is a dramedy written from a man's POV. I think it's important to try new genres, styles, etc. Isn't that how we grow as writers?

    ReplyDelete
  18. A super topic, Morgan.

    I think its difficult to label a writer, or any artist for that matter, to a specific genre or area. Once published, It seems that that writer is sort of boxed into that genre and it is what is expected of them, so they just keep at it.

    I'm guessing that time/effort/years of experimenting and evolving is what eventually slots an artist into a category, but I wonder if the artist themselves could have predicted what category they would end up in.

    For my most recet writing project(which I haven't really dabbled in for a long time now... *ashamed face*), I thought I was writing YA when, on review, realised that I was in the Thriller/romance category (which is probably why I am STILL working on it... har har har)

    Its funny, but I think the same goes for photography. Even though its just one photograph, that one image tells a story- from the idea, to follow through, catching the mood, the light, colours, etc. With different atmospheres & conditions, a photograph of a simple tree can be categorised into a genre. The unique eye of a photographer will determine what genre or category they will eventually mature and fall into- but I think that it's the journey to find out what genre picks you that counts.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I write paranormal romance in three age categories (YA, Adult, and New Adult). I'm dabbling in urban fantasy, but we'll see how that goes. Great post, Morgan! :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Well, I've successfully written multiple genres. Haven't landed a contract yet. I'm finally getting into my MG (I claim to write it, so I better have something to show for it) and am loving it so far. Reads like a dead possum for now, but it's 3K quality dead possum! :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have a hard enough time saying I'm a writer some days let alone what kind of a writer :) My first WiP was an adult political thriller. Now I'm writing a YA post-apocalyptic series. I think I better just work on admitting I'm a writer, maybe I should practice saying this out loud ten times a day :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I like to dabble in all sorts of genres. I write whatever comes to me. But, I admit, sci-fi and fantasy are my bloodlines. I've written urban, horror, and dystopian, but they are heavy with the fantasy element. I've tried a short story with contemporary...that's about it! I write in majority what I love to read/watch/wished I lived in...sci-fi and fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Completely unimportant to feel a label on your shirt collar when it comes to genre, IMHO.

    I wish I knew this ten years ago. And, as such, I must admit, the labels will become less important, less aggressive as this indie movement marches forward. Technology will continue to evolve that destroy the idea of shelves. It will be more of a "If-you-like-this-you'll-like-that" kind of relationship for the reader.

    And for the writer? The self of those souls will continue to expand as more of us simply pour out what lives inside and turn it into something readable.

    Again, just my humble opinion.

    j. //

    ReplyDelete
  24. This makes me nervous, because I don't know a whole lot of published authors who bounce around genres, but I write all sorts of genres...and I'd love to be published in all of them. Idk.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think those famous authors we aspire to be tend to stick what sells to the public - it's works - run with it. I know if I had a huge fan base who wanted a specific genre, I bet I could produce it. But right now, I jump around. My fav is YA, but I have a couple adult contemporary and historical romance ideas floating in my head. I know one day I am going to put the fingers to the keyboard and bust them out. I bet most writers are this way. And it is because we are THAT awesome :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I write only YA, but the best thing about YA is all the different sub-genres. One of my WIPs is suspense (or contemporary with a lot of mystery and suspense--still haven't figured it out yet). Another is YA horror (or is that YA supernatural thriller???). And yet another is YA suspense (or thriller). The common thread is suspense, mystery, hot guys, making out, and danger. :D

    ReplyDelete
  27. I don't think it matters. if for no other reason then the labels are just as vague as they are specific. I remember being very disappointed when on of the first things i showed to an Editor, which I thought was Science fiction she called YA. All because the main character was 12 in the sample. kinda was upsetting.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is a hard question that I really don't know the answer to. I do think someone can be talented at more than one genre, but I have to admit, I might be nervous in reading a new genre from an author I love - wondering if they can pull it off. I think that's why some people use pen names when they switch genres or whatnot.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I tend to think that when you write, the story should flow naturally. So if your story is flowing and the words are easy, then you are writing the story you were meant to write. As for genres...I have no clue.

    ReplyDelete
  30. All the big-name writers stick to just one genre, but then again there are a couple who do write across different genres: Nora Roberts, for one, is a romance writer who's published a few crime novels ... but under a different name. I believe that is important, as readers will associate your name, your BRAND, with a particular genre and style of writing, so if you do want to write something different, a clear distinction has to be made.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ever since I read your post about writing about the ballet world, I've been thinking how much I would love to read something like that. You've got to write it! (I'll cheer you on

    ReplyDelete
  32. I believe you write what you have a passion for. Besides...that's why we have pen names, right?

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I think it's hard to be successful in multiple genre's, but I also think you should write the stories that come to you. I was absolutly no help :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think most of the writers I've enjoyed over the years stuck to one or two main genres, probably because they just felt more comfortable writing what was familiar and what they'd proven to be good and popular in. For me, 20th century historical (both adult and YA) comes so naturally because of my lifelong love of history, though I also write some soft sci-fi. I honestly don't think I'd know the first thing about writing, say, fantasy, police procedural, or thriller. The voice I've developed over the years just seems better-suited to historicals with more literary language and a generally slower pace.

    ReplyDelete
  35. How ironic that our posts for the day are similar in the sense of analyzing the 'title of writer'. Great minds! As for your question.. I think that a writer is just that. It doesn't mean you can't write in different genre's. As a writer you're a slave to your internal muse, you see things differently than anyone else, so you write what you see. Regardless of genre, the inspiration is the same.. so in a sense the genre is secondary to the muse, that being your imagination. So.. labeling yourself as a writer could be considered a misnomer.. what you're labeling is the reaction, the symptom of what is really happening. Maybe we should label ourselves imaginers instead. :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. MORGAN! I'm all mushy inside. You're the best ever. Love you lots!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Well, let's see. I've written contemporary YA, inspirational YA fantasy, YA fairy-tale fantasy, Adult sci-fi (which I thought was more fantasy, but it's really more sci-fi/steampunkish--though no steam--so it got labeled sci-fi). I think it can be the themes that are important--I've talked about it before, but all of my stories tend to veer toward the same sort of themes--light in the darkness, hope after hopelessness--though they do it in WILDLY different ways with wildly different characters. I don't ever feel like I'm writing the same story over and over again.

    I just...write what story is on my heart--and the one that keeps me from sleeping well because I've got so many scenes running rampant through my head! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  38. I've written quite a few different genres, but it's better in the beginning to focus on one. It's not an absolute must, but it makes it easier to build a brand that way.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I say write the story that wants to be written and it will work itself out. The stories in my 'idea' folder are mainly fantasy and I find that when I try have worked on developing any of them, I end up giving them a fantasy twist. I guess I know my favored niche.

    Love your blog topics as always, dear lady.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm a fantasy author ... usually urban fantasy. YA has a shorter word limit, and I like the voice of its characters, so I write YA now.

    Sandra, my best friend, says I should just do a non-fantasy, non horror novel ... that my relationships in my novels are strong enough to carry the reader's interest. Perhaps, but not enough to carry mine! LOL. So there is one more perspective! Great post as always. I'm so late, you'll probably never read this. Me and my impossible dreams! Roland

    ReplyDelete
  41. have an interesting space, a great pleasure to read you.
    if you like the poetry I invite you to my space.
    happy day.
    a greeting.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I think authors have many other talents...that is where they get their writing sources from.

    ReplyDelete
  43. People scream adamantly on both sides of this.

    I figure as long as I stick to YA, I'm good.

    Also - this what pen names are for... lol

    ReplyDelete
  44. I don't label myself. At least not yet. I guess if that elusive publishing deal ever comes, then I might have to stick to something for a while, but until then I don't know enough about myself as a writer to narrow down my genres :)

    I'm currently working on a YA Contemporary Collaboration and a YA Sci-fi. Tough for me to choose :)

    The ballet one sounds SO cool. Can't wait!

    ReplyDelete

 
There was an error in this gadget

Search Away

Follow by Email

Site design by: The Blog Decorator