I can hear you saying, "That's all fine and dandy for someone else, but for me and my thriller manuscripts I don't need that kind of practice."
Now, I want you to hear me saying. "You're wrong!"
Why? Because, we have to always be learning in order to keeping knowing. That sounds kind of lame when I write it that way. But here's the gist: to be really, really good at something, requires continual, daily, practice. This means writing in your genre, and writing in OTHER genres to be not only a good writer, but a great writer: someone who can understand all sorts of things because of this very act of writing in a genre one normally doesn't write in.
So, what do you need to do? Try doing what I'm doing. Well, so I'm probably not doing all of these, but here are three examples of things that you -- yes you, you writer way in the back of the class who thinks this blog post doesn't pertain to them -- can and should do to brush up on your skills.
A writer is not a writer unless they write, and they're not a writer unless they can write in all sorts of ways. Just as an actor is not a true actor (from what I understand) until they can be all characters, from the evilest of murderers to the kindest of cops. You know what I mean. A variety, a cornucopia of acts that when all put together, creates a whole: a complete person.
Check these options out, have fun and work at it! This will help you. I promise.
1. Enchanted Conversations: A Fairytale Magazine. This is a great blog that has contests with retold fairy tales. GREAT site. I've submitted before. Very fun to re-write a fairytale with different characters and settings. Challenging, but again, 'tis the point. Free to submit and contests are monthly.
2. Ether Sci-fi and Fantasy Quick Reads: I would love to try this one. Mostly because I've never written sci-fi story, despite the fact that I like reading the occasional sci-fi book, I want to see if I can do this. This is so not my style, or genre, but hey, I can try! Again, this will sharpen my skills. How can it not? Besides, you can win an Ipad. Awesomeness...
3. Camp NaNoWriMo: I've done this before too, but only the November contest. This is where one writes a book (50,000 words) in thirty days. Totally crazy fun. Doesn't need to be your best work, all you have to do is write. It's a way to get your backside into gear and get that book out that's been rolling around your head. When a deadline looms, I like to think I work better and faster: a perfect reason you should sign up too. And what's even better is that this competition is free, and you can go at your own pace (as long as it's 50k words total at the end of the month) and you have friends who are doing this with you. This Camp NaNo is for June and August (separately) and is easier going than the driven NaNo in November. This Camp NaNo also has us in smaller groups. I'm looking forward to getting a book or two out this summer.