I don't mean just new styles of writing, new ways, new words...but new genres too? And do you feel it makes you stronger as a writer?
Me, I'm an MG writer. Straight up MG. But MG covers a lot of territory, and so far I've done literary MG, magical-realism, and slightly more commercial. The thing is, none of these have been through a conscious decision. I get the idea and there's basically no way of saying, "Well, Mr Brilliant-idea-shining-like-a-star, I don't really *do* so-and-so MG."
I just write it. And then revise at will (with the magical realism, this revising process has taken the form of nail pulling, but...who cares, right? All for the greater good.) And each of the books has helped me to grow as a writer inordinately; I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.
Which brings me to my current brouhaha.
I don't know how you all decide on your next idea, but mine generally comes when I'm 3/4 finished with the present MS in first draft stages. It sticks throughout the revisions process, and near the end of revisions, I usually know the first sentence, how it'll start, all characters, and a general idea of the first 1/3 of the book.
It's not any different in the new case, except...there are TWO books to revise before I can get to it.
And it's a mystery.
This makes me quiver in my boots. My protag is a boy, of all things (I've only ever done one other boy as protag, which went okay but still, yikes) and there must be clues. And wit. And of course, there are animals in it, which I'm most happy with, but yikes, a mystery.
When I first had the idea (in the midst of an excessively boring bus ride home) I was so excited. But a mystery?
Oh well. This time I'll be further out of my comfort zone than ever before. I must remember my mantra: "It is okay to write a first draft of utter poo."
And you? Do you ever go outside your comfort zones?