I don’t know how Stephen King does it. Every book, every short story… horror, horror, horror. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for branding. The public at large knows who they need to see for a fright. It just seems to me as a writer, writing everything within the same genre seems a bit confining. The mind isn’t shaped like a box and doesn’t operate like it’s stuck in one.
The following is writing advice, not publishing advice. Publishing gurus advise it’s to your benefit to stay within a certain genre, build a following, brand yourself. It’s good advice… for publishing.
I’m more about the writing. And I say entertain those notions you normally don’t. You normally write science fiction, try a fantasy piece. You like gritty cop drama, set it in the future. And don’t just confine it to genre. You normally like long winded, epic tales that stretch the upper limits of “short” story, try writing a flash piece. You like to invent complex and convulted characters, import an already known persona into a story like George Washington Carver or the Quaker Oats man. You only write in third person, write it in first. Whatever it is that’s your “thing”, try something else.
What’s the point? Well, writing outside of your comfort zone forces you to employ skills you may have been neglecting. It’s a challenge. But not only do challenges have a tendency to deliver a gratifying reward for rising to them, the act of bringing those rusty skills to the front sharpens them. Nobody wants to catch eye tetanus reading your rusty skills. Keep them sharp.
Besides, it’s fun. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who only likes one thing. If you are that kind of person… wow. Self-induce a mid-life crisis so you can grow. If you’re not, then be adventurous, work in some new territory.
How do you publish all this new stuff you don’t know how to sell? How the hell would I know? I’m the “What If” Man, not the Answer Man! Get a psuedonym and go J.D. Robb on us. Hire an agent. Worry about that after you’ve written something new and fun and different. The point is to break the things that are confining you… you might be surprised at what you do with the degree of freedom.