When I was a student at UC Davis, I wrote a very wacky, very goofy play called The Amazing Inspector Pleaseleeve. We had auditions in September and the show didn’t open until February, which meant we had about five months of rehearsal. With a joke-heavy show like this and with lots of rehearsal time at our disposal, the cast and I would pitch new jokes, try new comedy bits, and re-write sections of the script all in the interest of making the show funnier.
But at some point over the course of that five months, I got kinda burned out on jokes, puns, one-liners, and sexual innuendos. I needed a break from comedy writing in some capacity for my own creative health.
So, while we were working on the show, I started to write a drama-based play, something I had never done before, but felt was a needed antidote to the other project I was currently working on. And I enjoyed working on it. It wasn’t about punchlines or zingers, it was about real people and real emotions.
When we write, we often pigeonhole ourselves into a specific genre. “I’m a comedy writer;” “I’m a sci-fi writer;” “I’m really good at writing fantasy stories.” This is what we do because once we find a genre that we are skilled in and can write with ease, why would you deviate from that? After all, the ideas and stories flow out of you, so why change?
Sometimes, even if just for one story, consider writing in a different genre. You can still utilize your skills as a storyteller over there, but the challenge may give you a new perspective on your own writing that will only enhance it going forward.
For me, writing a drama was a refreshing change of pace. I had always been a comedy writer, but a change in genre helped me discover new ways of telling a story. I couldn’t rely on a punchline to get me out of a scene, I had to find another way for the characters to communicate and grow. It was an effective exercise that showed me that I could do more as a writer than I had allowed myself to do in the past.
Don’t let yourself typecast yourself as a writer of just one genre. Experiment. Consider this: think of a basic premise for a short story. Now, write that premise as a Western tale, a fantasy story, a horror story, a mystery, or a comedy. Allow yourself to try new genres and you may be surprised with the results.