Friday, October 9, 2009

writing outside the box

First off, I’m pleased to announce two new events I’ll be reading at in the next month or so:

On Monday, October 26, I’ll be participating in a poetry book launch and reading event in London ON. Hosted at Mykonos and featuring Andreas Gripp, Penn Kemp, and John B. Lee, I’ll be sharing some selections from stains: early poems and possibly a new piece or two. More information will soon be posted on my website, but feel free to email me if you require directions or other details.

On Friday, November 20, I’m the feature author at the Poetic Travelers series at Lawrence Street Gallery in Ferndale MI. There’s an open mic at this event for those that are interested. More info about this event will be posted on my website after the weekend. Of course I’ll be reading poetry selections, but I just might share a small piece of non-fiction.

Which brings me to my thought for the day: writing outside our dominant genre.

While I do write a good deal of freelance articles, my creative writing focus is generally poetry and fiction. However, as part of a workshop I’m in right now I have been experimenting with creative non-fiction and I have to admit… I love it.

What’s interesting to me is that I haven’t spent much time writing creative non-fiction. After all, I love the art of the essay. I love first person narrative. Nothing draws me in to a book like a personalized experience. Considering these points, I am perplexed at my own level of ignoring the genre as an option for me. It’s just not something I fully considered. Until recently.

In the past few months, I have found myself truly enjoying this genre as an outlet for expression. I am fascinated with the craft and techniques I am exploring. The attention to language usage and sentence formation is drawing me in. Yes, these are all aspects that are explored in writing poetry and fiction. There’s just something different about the craft of non-fiction, in a creative capacity.

Perhaps that has something to do with the level of personal involvement. In my fiction, I – the writer - don’t exist. In poetry, while it is easy to assume the narrator is the writer, that is not always the case and usually is not with my own recent poetry. But with creative non-fiction? I play a role. An active role. I am the narrator, the voice, the reason the piece exists. I become a character in my own story. And I’m finding it… liberating.

As a writer, I think there is so much value in trying new forms and techniques. There is something to be said for writing outside the box. As writers, it pushes us. Removes boundaries. Challenges our routine. And even when it’s not something that we commit to full-time, it’s a lesson in writing and in understanding ourselves better, as writers.

If you write, what do you usually write? Do you ever write outside your genre? What is that experience like for you? What have you learned?


  1. Lori,
    I found the same thing when I started writing about writing. While I had primarily written fiction or academic essays, I now love writing creative non-fiction articles. It's encouraged me to try new things outside my comfort zone.

  2. I write articles and non-fiction works. My first book is a memoir, but I also dabble in poetry. I will try any genre once :)

  3. Suzannah, it seems we have had similar experiences. Isn't it great how a little experimentation in trying something new can steer us in such interesting directions?

    I think trying a new genre can probably offer some relief, too, to those moments when we second-guess ourselves in our usual genre. Doing something new encourages those creative juices, that's for sure.

    Thanks for visiting!

  4. Hey Tabitha!

    You sound like me - doing a little bit of everything. I love that, though. It helps me from getting tired of my own voice and keeps me from being bored. Variety is the spice, and all!

  5. I write poetry, essays and articles. Much of my work could be monologues. Outside MY box is my current project, a children's book. I think it's always good to stretch the writing muscles and discover other parts of yourself.

  6. You're right, Mary! Exploring other genres, and even other points of view, is such an eye opener for discovering our inner writer and stretching our minds. I think it's great you're exploring your voice and style with a children's book. Nice!