In a recent episode of Lena Dunham’s Girls, Hannah, the main character, quits a lucrative day job writing advertorials, because she’s convinced it will stifle or kill her creative writing abilities and prospects. Granted, this character is only 25 (and often mental). But many people do believe that writing in another style, kills their style.
In this post, I had a look at the potential and pitfalls of having different fiction genres vying for supremacy in a writer’s brain. Many people manage this quite successfully, but I’ve never heard anyone speak publicly about how they do it. Do they write in one genre for six months, and then switch to another? Or do they work on two completely different projects at the same time?
How do you do switch between genres, forms or structure without style leakage, where your new writing voice casts an indelible shadow over your old one (if you even knew what that was)?
For instance, I’ve written short- and long-form fiction; 2 quite different adult novels; 1 young adult novel, and a few screenplays. I would rarely work on 2 different projects on the same day, though, because the end result would be a woeful example of any of them. It just doesn’t work without at least reading something in between which functions as a palate cleanser. Even then, I’m still not sure it works that well at all.
What About Professional Writers?
Some of us are lucky, in the professional sense. Some technical or business writing is so far removed from creative writing that it has about as much effect on your narrative voice as the writing of a shopping list.
For instance, I might write a very officious-sounding piece of business guff at work and have little difficulty in going home to write doggerel in the kitchen. Generally speaking, the two seem to be mutually exclusive. A certain part of my brain is devoted to finding synonyms for words like “revenue”, “significant”, “average” and “negative”; whereas another part of my brain entirely is responsible for coming up with descriptions for things like love, guilt, and that feeling when you realise you’ve just completely misunderstood what someone said to you and you look like a total spanner.
What do you find tends to leak into other areas? Are there certain types of writing which cannot peacefully co-exist with others? And if so, what do you do to separate them?