August 10, 2011

Good Writers Can Write Anything - Bonnie Way

Recently, I started tutoring two boys (grades 6 and 9) in writing.  While both have expressed an interest in creative writing, they are focused more upon academic writing—learning the skills they need to write good essays for school in the fall.  At our last meeting, I showed them an essay with a personal anecdote and encouraged them to include such little stories in their own essays.  One boy turned to me and said, "But we can't do that for school."

It is easy for us as writers to become focused upon one genre or one type of writing.  When I started as a writer, I wrote fiction.  YA fantasy, to be precise.  I occasionally wrote other, shorter stories for school assignments (still fiction), but the bulk of my writing energy was focused upon the imaginary world that I had created.  Up until I started university, I would have said I was a fiction writer.  And even in university, when I wanted to take writing courses, I eagerly signed up for the fiction class—and took the nonfiction class only because it was the only other writing class offered.

Now, when someone asks me that age-old question, "What do you write?" I say that I write a little bit of everything.  Fiction is still my first love, but lately the bulk of what I write is short, nonfiction articles for magazines and websites.  I've dabbled in poetry and essays, short stories and long stories, and even written a screenplay (under duress for a writing class, but hey, I wrote it).  I no longer try to fit myself into a category as a writer, but to challenge myself and to simply write.

Two of my favourite writers are Sigmund Brouwer and Angela Hunt.  Both of them have taught at Inscribe conferences and both of them have written a lot of books in a variety of genres.  They've written futuristic fiction, contemporary fiction, YA fiction, board books, and nonfiction, among other things.  It's likely greatly increased their incomes, but it's also kept them from becoming boring writers (I won't mention the names of other authors I've read who seem to be writing the same books over and over and over again).

So let me challenge you, in what's left of summer, to write something that you didn't think you could write—or to read something that you wouldn't normally read.  Stretch yourself.  Write outside your comfort zone.  And see what you can learn from it.


  1. This is actually a refreshing perspective. So many times the advice seems to be 'brand yourself'. As someone who writes both novels and plays, I wonder sometimes if I'm on the wrong track. Brouwer is a great example of 'doing it all' successfully. Thanks Bonnie. :)

  2. This is a good prod for someone like me who's pretty much stuck in a non-fiction rut. Maybe there are some other genres out there for me - but I'm pretty sure I'd have to draw the line at poetry :)

  3. Good challenge... I'll take you up on it.

  4. I'm glad I found your blog! Thank-you for this challenge.


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