Random Inspirations

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Mindset Matters: How to Change Mindset When You Switch Writing Genres

on January 26, 2015

I’ve just begun my newest writing project: a return to the YA Amish genre. After my foray into mermaid fantasy fiction, I missed writing inspirational and entertaining stories about the plain people. The only problem: after my four-month hiatus from Amish fiction, I wasn’t sure what to write about, what characters to include, or how to inject something fresh and new into my latest Amish creation. I knew that I wanted to write another spinoff series of my popular Amish Hearts books, but when I brainstormed story concepts, I couldn’t come up with anything!

Genre switches are difficult; when I’d begun writing the California Mermaids series, I’d published a post about it. At that time, however, I’d been delving into a brand-new genre with all the energy and inspiration that goes along with such a switch. In some ways, returning to a genre in which I’d previously written has been much harder. I’d been publishing one Amish book per month, and had really been in a groove. By switching to mermaid books, I’d interrupted my momentum.

However, I’ve found that it is possible–but not easy–to regain that momentum. My first step was to visit the library and pick up some Amish books. I’m a firm believer in reading to write better, and I often enjoy reading books that mirror what I’m doing at the moment, whether it’s going on vacation, going through a certain stage in life, or writing a book. The Amish books did the trick; my favorite was Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler. In his memoir, Wagler made his childhood and Rumspringa years come to life–and inspired parts of the plot line of my new book. 

This book helped me to reset my mind in preparation for writing my newest Amish book.

This book helped me to reset my mind in preparation for writing my newest Amish book.

The second thing I did was begin to reread my own Amish books, starting with Book 1 of the Amish Hearts series, Rumspringa Break. This put me back in touch with my characters, as well as with the events that had happened in each story. It’s strange, but when you write one book per month, you actually forget what you’d written six months or a year ago. That’s why it’s so important to periodically reread your own books when you’re writing a series or spinoff.

I’m still in the process of rereading my Amish books (There are ten of them.), but the third thing that really helped me to change my mindset was plain old meditation. After all my reading, I suddenly had tons of inspirational thoughts swirling around in my head, and I needed to focus them. Ten minutes in the hot tub were all I needed to plant the seeds of the story line, and to sketch out the first few chapters of my new book in my mind.

My Amish book will be about some young upstarts who decide to start a new community after an unnecessarily strict bishop takes over in their own community. I’ll be posting excerpts and reflections as I write, and the book itself is due out in late February.

Writers, have you ever returned to a genre after leaving it? If so, did you find it as difficult as I did, and what did you do to facilitate the process? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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