As a long time fan of John Mellencamp‘s music, the fact that he has pushed the envelope in his lyrics and musical style over the years is a major reason I’m still buying his CD’s (they were albums and even 8-tracks when I first became a fan).
Mellencamp’s music, probably much like the man himself, has grown and evolved over the years. The core is still intact, he’s still crafting diddies about the everyman’s angst; but nothing on his recent releases actually sounds anything like “Jack and Diane” or “Authority Song”, though the backdrops and themes tend to remain the same.
I couldn’t even imagine if he’d followed “Jack and Diance” with “Bill and Lisa”, then “Joe and Heather”, and so on. How boring would that strict formula following have been for fans?
One of my favorite filmmakers is Ron Howard. From the silly to the deep, he’s made highly entertaining flicks that have made me laugh, and at times made me think.
But imagine if he had followed “Splash” with a dozen more romantic comedy romps involving a half-fish…blagh!
Thinking about creators in other crafts who refuse to keep pumping out the same formulaic product over and over, it makes me wonder why writers tend to be the exact opposite.
Certainly there are exceptions, but for the most part writers who achieve any level of success tend to continue producing the same exact style and tone of story over and over again for the length of their careers.
I’ve spoken with writers about this in the past. Most expressed that they’d love to challenge themselves by exploring new genres and styles, but it always seems to come back to “my [publisher/agent] would never go for it”.
I understand that. Hey, nobody wants to kill their Golden Goose? So pressures from publishers and/or agents keeps the creative juices of writers boxed in as a matter of business.
But, that’s where I think Indie publishing really opens the floodgates for writers. Sure, your publisher may be demanding 3 more “small town girl tames big city badboy” romance novels under your contract, but with just 5 minutes a writer can fill out a form and setup a pen name to release as many novels and novellas in as many different genres as they please.
Always wanted to try your hand at a thriller? A tale of horror? A western? Now you can.
And I truly believe–based on the writers I’ve talked with–that most writers would rather develop stories in a variety of genres rather than sticking to the same thing with every manuscript.
That’s just the nature of being creative. Your mind likes wonder and your inner-child loves to play in multiple playgrounds.
Beyond being so easy for a writer to expand out now, the fact that shorts and novellas have a lower bar to entry with Indie publishing over traditional, it really does free writers to explore and expand their craft.
So open up your word processing program and start taking some risks. It’s good times for writers and readers alike.