Are you Flexible or Focused?

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

At Books & Such, we love all types of writers. But today, I’d like to tell you about two specific types. Each one has its pros and cons.

The first is The Flexible Writer.

The Flexible Writer is the writer we can go to when opportunity knocks. If an editor contacts us with a request or if they are looking for a certain type of project, we know we can go to The Flexible Writer and he/she will be able to do the job well and get it done on time. The Flexible Writer can often take on work-for-hire projects and/or collaborations in addition to their own writing.

The big concern with The Flexible Writer is that he/she might fall into the unbranded trap. Sales figures and even reputation can be hurt by this. Publishing houses might refuse to work with The Flexible Writer if he/she is stretched in too many directions. And The Flexible Writer can hurt sales by marketing too many completely different projects to one audience.

The Flexible Writer might also get so busy with work-for-hire projects that he/she won’t have time to write the book of his/her heart.

The second type of writer is The Focused Writer.

The Focused Writer knows what he/she writes. He/She will always write in a single genre and does very well with it. This type of writer is very branded and can easily market to his/her audience because the audience is following the writer because they are interested in a specific type of book. Everything should be smooth sailing for this type of author, except for the fact that…

Genre interest waxes and wanes.

The Focused Writer could be in trouble if the interest for his/her genre disappears for a time. A lot in publishing tends to be cyclical, so the interest in the genre most likely will return, but no one knows how long it could take.

I have both flexible and focused writers as clients, and I am very happy to represent both types. I love ’em!

Do you see yourself as one of these types? Or are you a mix of the two or something completely different?

How could a Flexible or Focused writer work to overcome the downside of their type?

Are there any downsides I missed?

13 Responses

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  1. I think I’m a focused writer. But my day job has been a long exercise in flexibility–over the years, I’ve stepped into the gap when others leave, making their jobs mine. I’ve considered writing for hire as a source of income when I retire. Thank you, Rachel, for pointing out some pros and cons I hadn’t considered.
    * Father God, you are the perfect blend of focus and flexibility, dealing with all personalities and problems with unchanging love. Build your divine balance into our writing hearts. Amen.

  2. Kristine says:

    This is awesome, Rachel. I appreciate how you’ve highlighted the positive traits of both types, but also given areas for improvement. Time for a little self-reflection! Could the flexible writer be in danger of burn-out because she doesn’t know how to say no, or because she’s afraid of missed opportunities if she passes on a project? (Looking in the mirror on that one!)

  3. As a caregiver and a whole host of other family complications, I have learned to be flexible in most areas, but in writing I tend to be focused, although God is pushing me to do something a little different. Not actually having an agent or anything published, it is hard to say for sure which I truly am. I would say the flexible writer must be a master of the word “no” and know there capabilities inside and out. Thanks for bringing these two types into focus. It is definitely something to consider.

  4. Fanatically

  5. Thanks for pointing out the benefits and challenges of each kind of writer. I definitely tend to be more focused. I’ve tried a little genre hopping, but I seem to keep landing in one genre.
    *That said, I wonder if one thing focused writers can do is to know a genre close to their own…how to write in it, how to work within it . . . just in case.

  6. Katie Powner says:

    Great insight, Rachel. I’d like to think I’m somewhere in between, but I’ll have to give it some more thought. I do believe there’s a down side to every type of writer, but there’s always an up side too. I imagine a lot of your job is maximizing your client’s strengths and minimizing their weaknesses – whatever they might be!

  7. Carol Ashby says:

    I’m flexibly focused. I love trying different things, but I can stay on target once I pick it. With all the emphasis on creating our author brand, there seems to be a lot of pressure to focus instead of flex too much.

  8. Hmmmm … I might be a combo. I do not like other people to distract me with other writing ideas. I put my nose down and focus on what I’ve decided to write. But … I distract myself with new writing ideas all the time. That is why I keep a file of new ideas and I like to work on 2 mss. at a time. I do a complete revision of one ms. then I give that one a break and either write a new rough draft or I do a complete revision of a different story. I bounce back and forth between them so that each one is fresh to me when it is time to work on it.

  9. David Todd says:

    Without a doubt I’m a flexible writer. Except, with me it manifests in an extreme case of Genre Focus Disorder. I’m considering seeking professional help.

  10. I guess I’m more of a see-saw writer. I go back and forth between two things: fiction for kids and short non-fiction (ie. articles and devotionals) for adults.

  11. Elissa says:

    I am without question, a focused writer. However, while I write in one main genre, I can switch between sub-genres with little trouble. So maybe I’m flexibly focused?

  12. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    Thanks for your post, Rachel. Got me to thinking on how to deal with the downside of my writing traits and how to be a bit more flexible within my chosen genre. Definitely a focused writer, and probably will continue to write in my favorite genre even with its ups and downs. Either that, or write with a pen name 😉
    Since life is ever-changing and we need to stay flexible for that, I’m so glad we have one constant in our lives–the Lord. You nailed the attributes of a focused writer, Andrew–and continue to pray daily for you, sir.