The longer you write, the more difficult it becomes to write something different.
It isn’t that you lack the capability, it’s that you’ve developed other considerations that warrant significant attention in your selection of what to write.
Your readers have certain expectations, and they don’t like (and you don’t like) disappointing them. For example, you write romantic suspense. Then you shift to paranormal novels. Some readers might make the shift with you. Some won’t. You’ll gain new readers for the paranormals—ones who love paranormals but aren’t perhaps enamored with straight romantic suspense.
It’s for this reason that the higher you get on your publisher’s list, the less creative freedom you experience in novel type. But that doesn’t mean that you lose all creative freedom. You don’t. You still can stretch your creative wings and fly—you just do so in that same novel type.
This comes easier to some writers than to others. They seem to have an endless flow of ideas that both fit within their self-defined boundaries and exceed them without crossing into unexpected territory.
These are the writers who awaken their muse. The ones who deliberately seek new twists and opt not for the first thing that springs to mind but the third or fourth or twenty-fourth because they know that for the reader to experience fully and become actively engaged in the fictional dream they create, the writer first must experience fully and become actively engaged in that fictional dream.
If your muse is slumbering, coasting along on autopilot, you’ve either reached the dead zone or you’re on a short approach to it. The dead zone is when writers write from that place where they aren’t engaged, and it shows in the work in thousands of ways. Some are glaringly apparent (often referred to as lazy writing) and others are subtle (often not referred to at all because the reader can’t peg a specific thing in words but senses those specifics at a deeper level).
My short, stock answer to this challenge is this: Never write a book you don’t love.
If you, the writer, love it, it shows in those thousand ways. You automatically stretch because you’re deeply invested. You’re engaged and running full-throttle. And that, too, shines through in the work in a multitude of ways that can’t be put into words but is felt deeply.
Whether you must give your muse a gentle nudge—being a writer to whom “different and yet the same” stories is natural—or you have to shake the smithereens out of your muse—because you’re a writer to whom “different is nowhere near the same” stories is natural, there is a key to dealing with this creative challenge.
Identify which type of writer you are. Then nudge or shake; do what you must do to get invested and engaged. Do what you must do for the work to stay fresh and original to you. Refill your creative well, keep it overflowing; write about things that matter to you; write about people in situations that intrigue and interest you. Feed your creativity.
Do that and creativity will awaken the Muse for you.
And you will love the books you write.
©2008, Vicki Hinze