Breaking the Rules

You have probably heard at least some of the rules of writing. They include things like “write what you know” or “write something every day” or “read widely in the genre in which you want to write.” All writers break at least some of them, some of the time, myself included. In fact, I break a lot of them.

But the one I break most is the one that says to stick with one genre and to brand yourself accordingly.

I thought, when I first started writing, that I would be writing nothing but historical fiction, hence, the subtitle of this blog. And historical fiction is definitely where my writing heart is. It’s the kind of writing I will always come back to and I will brand my real name solidly in that genre. (Okay, mostly.)

But you may or may not know–depending on how well you know me–that I have now published or have in the publishing pipeline, three different (really, really different) genres of writing under three names. And when my science fiction is finished, I plan to put it under a fourth name.

There is a reason the rule exists, after all. The rule exists because momentum is important to a writing career. If I release five things under five names in three years, but never under the same name twice, I face the uphill battle of the debut novelist over and over in spite of having written a lot more than one debut. The rule exists because practice makes perfect and mastering one genre is hard enough without giving yourself a new learning curve every time you sit down to a blank page.

So why have I broken this particular rule into so many splinters? It’s hard to say. While I always have two or three promising ideas in the back of my head, there’s always one that pushes its nose under my chin at three in the morning like an eager puppy, keeping me awake. And so far that hasn’t been the same genre twice in a row. And I haven’t had the discipline to ignore the puppy and get down to work on the more rule-following idea. I just jump out of bed and off we go on a rabbit chase to…space, or Regency England, or…the back of some hot chick’s motorcycle.

For whatever reason, here I am, with too many projects in one hand. I will probably never get any real momentum in any one genre if I don’t pull up and focus. I broke a rule and I will suffer the consequences, no doubt. It’s okay though, I’m pretty happy with my puppies and their enthusiastic notions. I can’t say that I recommend breaking this rule, though. So do as They say and not as I do–pick a genre and stick to it.

But hey–what’s your favorite writing rule to break?

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One thought on “Breaking the Rules

  1. “I will probably never get any real momentum in any one genre if I don’t pull up and focus.” Mira Grant writes futuristic horror-ish books. Seanan McGuire writes fantasy. Same person, quite successful, quite good. Keep breaking rules if they make you happy and you have the books in your head, wanting to come out!

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