You’ll never know what you can do unless you try and you’ll never know how good you can get unless you stick with it. I understand the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone, because it is only by doing so that you can realize your full potential. At the same time, I’m not sure I’m really cracked up for the craft.
I stated in a Twitter (and Facebook) update some time back that even though I write exclusively in non-fiction, the two types of writers that I admire and respect the most are comedy writers and children’s book authors. Writing humorous material is inherently a very difficult challenge, because everyone’s sense of humor is a little different and getting the right kind of timing can be very hard. I have the utmost respect for the writers who rarely get any recognition, like those who work behind the scenes at The Colbert Report or Saturday Night Live.
Interestingly enough, my first writing-relation ambition was to be a cartoonist. I wanted to draw and write comic strips (and not necessarily comic books). This combined two of my interests at the time: sketching cartoon characters and writing. It seemed like a good fit until I quickly realized that writing funny material on a consistent basis is very difficult.
Children’s book authors face an entirely different set of challenges. First, the material has to be accessible to a younger audience, yet push their reading level just a smidge further. Far be it for me to call myself an elitist, but I’ve always written with an educated adult audience in mind. Writing for children is a totally different beast. You also have to be entertaining enough to capture their attention, which isn’t exactly.
Logistically, I’m not sure if I could “make it” as a comedy writer or a children’s book author. There is something to be said about sticking to your strengths, but if I know that some areas are left unexplored, I could be leaving a lot of potential on the table, so to speak. Maybe I could make a casual attempt at a webcomic like XKCD. The accessibility of the Internet opens many doors.