We’ve all heard the fiction-writing advice: “Write what you know.” In the world of nonfiction, this same advice is repackaged as “Create a writing niche.” It’s solid advice, yet, writing exclusively in your niche has drawbacks. Here are four ways yours may be keeping you from moving forward.
1. It encourages you to stagnate. Think swampy pool of algae-covered water. It doesn’t move, it doesn’t change, it doesn’t go anywhere new. Where will this show up the most? In your portfolio of clips. Yes, you’ll demonstrate expertise on your subject, but you run the risk of looking like a one-trick pony. Branching out and diversifying never hurt anyone.
2. It’s too easy. For some reason, human beings crave a satisfying challenge. It’s one reason tic-tac-toe loses it’s appeal after so many plays. You know all the moves, no surprises wait on the horizon, and the thrill, as they say, is gone. Without a challenge to spur us forward, we run the risk of writing dull material.
3. It can lead to boredom and burnout. I don’t care how much you love your topic, or how passionate about it you are. At some point in time, you are going to sit down at your computer, stare at the screen, and update your facebook status message every thirty seconds to avoid writing about it.
4. You’ll hit market saturation. Being able to write 1,000 different slants on the same topic is a fine feat. But when it comes time to find a home for each and every one of them, you’ll likely run out of markets before you run out of angles.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t write within a niche, but lift your head and look around occasionally. Write about things that inspire you, things you want to learn more about, and things you want to understand. Push your boundaries and explore.