If you’ve ever read any of my work (and maybe I should just start a new page and SHARE something once in a while), my style is much like my blogs: easy going, sassy, fun and a test ground for obscure vernacular. I usually stay in the same vein, the same comfort zone. Middle-aged heroines, slightly evil protagonists, a little mystical, a little macabre.
But now and then I take a stab at writing things that make me uncomfortable — things I don’t do well. Murders, politics, modern day drama. I do this because it’s important to push my comfort zone just to see if I can adapt. To take a step on the other side of the fence.
I find myself doing that at work lately. Emails and FB posts about products are a lot more cut and dry than free form poetry. I can’t use too much humor or any sarcasm, lest the readers get the wrong impression of the company. Which is how it should be.
But writing these straight-laced entries is more of a challenge than I thought. It seems I’m almost too straight-laced. It has been suggested by my work mentor and friend that Facebook is more a social interaction, and that I can promote products while keeping it fun.
Can you be a different writer for different situations?
Have you ever tried to write third person when all your life you’ve been a first person kinda writer? Have you ever tried to write research findings with a straight face while letting loose with sex scenes in your current novel?
It’s not as easy as it appears to be.
We all have a personal slant to our writing. Throw a bunch of papers from different writers on the table and most times people will know who wrote what. That’s good from a reputation standpoint. But what if the group wanted you to throw something strange and different into the mix? Could you?
There are so many different worlds to try out. And in the privacy of your practice room, nobody has to read your writing but you. Try a story from a different point of view. From someone who grew up in the Old South. Someone who lives in an isolated village in Norway. From someone who has been abused. From someone in the 1800s who had to go to work in the mines at age 9. From a serial killer.
It is good practice to get into other’s heads besides yours. Even if you’ve never been to Norway, a little research goes a long way. Surely you’re not a serial killer, but what about their justifications? The point of these exercises is not precision — it’s practice.
I’m about due for a wrong-way-turn short story. I’ve written about places I’ve visited or driven past, my characters are half-visions of me, and I feel safe in my middle-age-heroine cocoon.
And writing descriptions about sheep clippers and paint brushes just doesn’t take me far enough away.