Next week, I'll be participating once again in NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I made it to round 2 last year, but really struggled with my 2nd heat assignment - a fantasy story involving scuba diving and a treasured object. I fell into the trap of, "I'm writing fantasy, and fantasy looks like X." I wrote something that I really had no business writing - high fantasy with magical creatures. That's just not my genre. I'll read the hell out of those books. I don't write them.
I was thinking about that heat once again, and of course just now came up with the perfect idea that would have totally been in my wheelhouse. I remember thinking about how much I love whimsical things and wondering why I don't write with more whimsy. I thought about my awful attempt at writing fantasy... and came up with the perfect, whimsical story basically a year too late. One that takes a complete benign and relateable modern situation and adds fantastical elements, whimsy, and comedy to the mix. That's okay, I'm still going to write it. And since it's not for the short story contest, I can toss out those elements from the heat I don't really need.
And on that subject, this wonderful blog post popped up in one of the writer groups I belong to - don't be afraid to change the rules of the genre you're writing. Question yourself when you think things have to a be certain way, such as when I thought fantasy needed to have fairies and elves. Even the situation of seeking a treasured object can be twisted around into something else. Words have many meanings, and some concepts, like treasure, truly are in the eye of the beholder.
When writing, always question. Never take anything at face value. Make it your own, whatever that looks like.