It used to drives me nuts. Too spread out. I could hear the grinding and breaking of teeth every time I changed gears. It was like getting a swift knee to the gut. I used to come up gasping.
Now I don’t mind so much. I even welcome it, sometimes. Sure.
I’m talking about bouncing from one unfinished piece of writing to another. Maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe you’re juggling more assignments than a short-order cook. Everything from blog posts and website articles to artsy critiques and fiction.
More than anything, I’m talking about styles. For what I’ve got in mind, the subjects don’t really matter. You can bring a hard-boiled sense to writing about petunias if you’ve a mind to. No, what I’m getting at is switching up between voices, tone and point of view.
It used to be that changing from my latest detective yarn to an objective take on cyber crime threw me for a major loop. Sure, I probably write too much from the gut, too much from the seat of my pants. Switching gears played havoc every time I had to rediscover a voice, slip into a new take, get in the mood.
Maybe my craft’s improved some. Maybe I’ve crossed a threshold. Maybe it’s a simple matter of volume. But the change of pace, more times than not, is keeping me fresh. It can actually provide a spark where there would otherwise just be a pile of wet leaves.
It gives me a choice, too. You hear that old refrain a lot, the one about writers having to force themselves to the keyboard. But going stale in one genre can sometimes prove a real boost. What a pleasure to put down one story and pick another simply because I feel like tackling that Hitchcockian piece right now.
I’m not advocating spreading yourself thin. What I am proposing is that tired cliche: variety is the spice of life…or it can be the spice of death, depending on your genre. Sure.