September seems like the perfect month to talk about making changes. To me, September has always signaled new beginnings: the start of a new school year, the start of cooler, more invigorating weather after the heat of summer (though here in Florida that may not happen for another month), the start of football season. September was also the month I launched myself into a whole new genre.
Changing genres was a leap for me—terrifying, exciting…and absolutely necessary. After many years and 15 published historical romance novels, some on very tight deadlines, I was burned out. I went over a year without writing at all, during which time I binged on young adult fiction—Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, etc. I enjoyed them so much I was lured back to writing with an idea for a YA series of my own. I hoped writing something totally new to me, teen fiction, would get my writing juices flowing again—and it did.
It wasn’t easy, though. In fact, it was much harder than I expected. For one things, I was switching from third person to first person POV. And my comfortable Regency historical voice absolutely did not work when narrating from the perspective of a modern 15-year-old girl. Like, at all. Where my Regency heroine might think, “Goodness, but Lord Dearborn is handsome!” my teen heroine is more like, “OMG, this new guy, Rigel, is totally to die for!”
What helped most was time-traveling (inside my head) back to high school and my own teen years, when I was a lot like my nerdy, insecure, unpopular heroine. When I was able to slip into that mindset, the words began to flow. Even then, I can’t claim the writing was easy. It’s still not, even after seven books and a novella in that series. But by switching up genres, writing did become fun again!
In September 2013, I released Starstruck, my first young adult novel. Then, over the next two and a half years, three more books in that series. After that, I wrote another historical romance novel, something I thought I’d never do again. Since then, I’ve written four more Starstruck books and two more historical romances. So in my case, switching things up was definitely the right thing to do.
Sure, not all change is good. But even painful changes remind us that we’re still alive and moving forward, while shying away from change can lead to stagnation, and who wants that?
If you feel like you might be in a rut, writing, reading or life-wise, why not mix things up a bit and see what happens? You might be pleasantly surprised!
Brenda Hiatt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the award-winning Starstruck series. She’s currently editing the first draft of the next book in that series, Unraveling the Stars, scheduled for release in early 2022.