Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Branching Out

By Fran McNabb
The oak tree outside my kitchen window is bare from the recent winter winds. The branches jutting
out in all directions made me think about writers and writing. Yes, I know, we writers sometimes have a strange way of looking at the world.

An analogy of a tree with a strong trunk and many, many smaller branches fits most people. Each one of us has a strong inner self, but we also all have tiny avenues of interest (our branches) that make us distinctively individual. Readers and writers alike can get into a rut so sometimes we need to branch out and expand to new areas of interest

If you're a reader, have you lost interest in books? Maybe changing genres can help. Do you read only historical romance? How about trying main stream or contemporary sweet romances? Tired of Science Fiction? Try inspirational for a change. Try new authors and new genres.

Branching out is good for all of us. Writers must branch out or risk becoming boring people and boring writers. We must move out of all comfort zone, write about characters that are different from us, use settings where we’ve never been.

We’ve always heard the advice to write what we know, but if that’s all we write about, we put ourselves at risk of not growing. Are you having writer’s block? Are you still looking for the inspiration you hoped to find from in this new year? Is looking at the world in the same old way keeping your creativity stagnant?

Yes, we have to stay true to ourselves, but let’s step out a little. Do you always write about a heroine who returns home after venturing out on her own? Maybe switch it around and use a heroine who realizes she must leave home to find her potential. How does she adapt to her new surroundings? Who does she let into her life?

Are your settings close to home? Writing about our hometown is easy and a great way for new writers to start, but again, move away from your comfort zone. Do research. Read about other parts of the world. Visit these places if it’s possible.

Readers and writers both must try something different for a change. You can always go back to what you originally liked, but who knows? There might be something else out there that opens your eyes.

The strong trunk of your personal tree never has to change. It develops and gets stronger, but basically stays the same. It’s those little branches that we can work on in 2017. Let them grow in different directions and maybe those branches will open up your potential for your new year in writing and in reading.

FRAN MCNABB writes sweet romances with some of them are set on her beloved Gulf Coast, but like the tree outside her window, she has branched out to other places for settings: W. Virginia, Key West, Texas, and South America. She has also stepped back into time with two historical romances. She’d love to hear from you at mcnabbf@bellsouth.net  or  check her out at www.FranMcNabb.com


  1. Interesting! I worry that I follow the branches and am too scattered but I think your point about trying new things and writing and reading different genres is a good one. It's a great takeaway for me.

    1. Deborah, I know what you mean about being too scattered and following too many branches. I find I do that too often. It's a necessity to branch out, but we have to do it in moderation. (I speak from experience!)

  2. I agree, Fran. None of us want to write the same book over and over so we have to explore different branches and sometimes go out on a limb.

    1. Sandy, it's so easy to get caught up in our comfort zone and end up "rewriting" what we like. My "branching out" sometimes leaves me exhausted and confused, but I work on understanding what I need to do.

  3. Hi Fran--
    You are so right about branching out to enrich our lives. As writers it's necessary to stay fresh, and as readers it just means a lot more books to discover.

    1. Yes, as a reader as well as a writer, I find that I can surprise myself and enjoy a book that someone has recommended. I get caught up in the same types that I know I like. Staying fresh is necessary in this industry.

  4. Good points! I write (and read) in multiple genres, and while it hasn't been a great career move, I'm pretty sure it's the reason I've been able to stay in the writing game as long as I have.