Why genre *doesn’t* matter (as much as you think it does)

To genre or not to genre… that is the question.

So you have an idea for a book… perhaps you’ve been sitting on it for weeks or months, even years. How much does knowing the genre of your book matter? Or more specifically: Do you need to know what genre you’re writing for from the get-go? Let’s dive in and explore… Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, there are certain things to consider. For fiction writing, you have aspects like character arcs and setting and plots and sub-plots to think about. Non-fiction writing is a little different. For example, writing a memoir is arguably one of the most intimate and personal forms of writing, and memoir writers often report their books taken on a life of their own, where it ebbs and flows, bobs and weaves, as details come into focus and the story gradually takes its shape. If you’re writing a self-help book, you’ll probably have a person in mind that you’re writing for. In this case, having more of an outline is more usual and can really help, even if you identify as being a pantser. 📝 READ: Plotter or Pantser: What kind of writer are you? Of course, you might be writing something else completely (e.g. a poetry collection), something that’s ‘in between’ genres (e.g. narrative fiction), or something that doesn’t obviously fit into any genre at all… Okay, so what’s the point I’m making here? Well, on the one hand, you might have a pretty good idea of the genre you’re writing, which can be helpful as you a ‘blueprint’ of sorts that might help inform what you’re writing. Or you might have some idea for what you wish to write, but you don’t know exactly where it fits in. I have met writers who started writing a book with a particular genre in mind and then, as their manuscript progressed, the genre gradually came into focus. It might well have changed from the one they had in mind when they started out. Yup, that can happen. But whether you’re someone who has a very clear idea of the genre your book falls under, or you’re someone who has an idea but has absolutely no clue what genre it’ll slot into… either scenario is fine and each of them has its advantages. Whichever camp you fall into, there are many thousands of writers who have come before you who have successfully completed books that are out in the world today. So if you're reading this and you have a book idea with a firm sense of the genre(s) you're writing to, then that's great. But if you’re someone who has an idea for a book, perhaps knowing the overall concept but not the full picture at this moment in time, I’m here to tell you that that’s not only okay, but that you’re probably right where you need to be. If you fall into that second camp, it’s not until you start getting words down onto the page or onto your computer screen that your idea will start to take shape and fully-form. As you write, the genre will emerge and your book will find exactly the place its meant to. To share an example with you… Lynnda Pollio, one of the authors I interviewed for my book (The Indie Author), wrote a beautiful book she called Trusting The Currents that ended up not quite fitting into any of the traditional genres. In the end, her book ended up finding itself a whole new genre called ‘Visionary Fiction’. So my parting words to you are this… If you know your genre, then that’s great and know it can be useful. But if you’re not sure as yet, then that’s really no problem at all. In fact, you might even find that your book finds its way into a whole new genre of its own. — Jas Hothi is a writer, coach & author. With a Masters in Positive Psychology (MAPP), he loves to help folks begin and make progress on their book projects by discovering and utilising their unique creative rhythms. He is also currently offering a free copy of his book, The Indie Author, to anyone who signs up for his newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy.