The Multi-Hyphenate. Why we as writers shouldn't box ourselves in.

Singer-songwriter, Actor-director, Producer-actor, Writer- ... 

While being at university, I have learnt so much about myself as a person, but also as a writer. It has given me the space to grow. Before this, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, other than write. The thing is, when you start telling people you’re a writer, they immediately want to know what genre you fall into, or which style you write in, expecting a honed answer in return. And for me, this question has never been easy. Partly because it’s a little intimidating and also the fact that I don’t just like one thing.  

I like science-fiction, but also drama and romance – not to mention that I'm trying my hand in poetry. Oh, and I really enjoy making films. So, you see - I try everything. Well, within reason. I want to be able to explore different types of mediums, while in the process learning more about myself and the variety of this art form. 

I remember being in my first year and strictly keeping my interest limited to screenwriting, until I went to a poetry workshop and realised how much I loved it. Not only are we allowing ourselves to hone our writing craft and expand our definition on what it means to be a writer- which is something I’m still defining for myself - we are giving ourselves the chance to be versatile. And in our industry, this is key.

To be multifaceted in this art of writing is incredibly necessary, especially when you’re starting out. Being able to apply your skill in article writing to academic journals is something that you will always be able to use, and will hopefully fund your more creative work, until you hit it big.  Though, the benefits don’t stop there - it also makes you appreciate the craft of writing, widening your perspective of what’s out there for you.  

I feel like in other creative jobs, it is much more common to see a hyphen between professions; just look at my list above. A reason for this may be that we as writers want to be the best in that one thing. The genre or style that defines us, as creatives. But at this stage, why not try it all. Be creative.

Always wanted to know what it would be like to write flash fiction? Go ahead and do it. And I say all of this not to overload you, but to encourage you to take risks.  

From Journalist to Author, to Screenwriter to Poet. Who says writers can’t be it all? 

by Daniella Ferguson-Djaba