I've been thinking a lot this week about what type of books to write. I gave a Fight Scenes workshop at the Romance Writers of Australia conference and it reminded me how much I used to love reading romances. And I wrote a bunch when I was younger. Most were terrible. Some weren't and I'll probably revisit them at some point.
But I moved on to Speculative fiction writing, because that was where I felt most comfortable. But I still read widely in other genres and enjoy mashing genres up in unexpected ways.
It's similar in martial arts.
When people first come to a martial art, they often know little about martial arts in general, and less about the differences between various arts. Sometimes they join, hate the style, tar all martial arts with the same brush, and quit. If they're more open-minded, they'll hunt around until they find a dojo or sensei or style that suits them, then stick with it. Master it. Become terrifyingly-skilled and powerful in that one style.
Some get to a reasonable level in one art, see the gaps in its curriculum and move on to another art to round out their skillset. Often they end up with a hybrid martial art that's unique to them and fantastically-effective.
It all comes down to knowing yourself, what you want from your art, and finding the right sources of information to learn from. If you want a martial art that's brutal, and immediately practical, then don't do Tai Chi (which is a martial art, believe it or not). If you want one that's meditative and flowing, then don't do Jujitsu.
In writing (as in all creative arts) it's hard to know what your 'style' or 'voice' is when you start out. You often start by mimicking your favourite stories. A lot of great writers started out in fanfic. A lot still write fanfic.
You might start in crime, then decide thriller is more what you love. Or you might be deliberate and find a niche market that's booming in a genre you love, and write that. Or you might start in the genre you devoured as a teen and never change because it's fulfilling to write the stories you couldn't find.
The point is, any of those options is fine. Gone are the days when you have to stick to one genre for the rest of your life. You can if you want to, but if you love to read widely, then why the heck not write in different genres, too? Some readers will follow you, some won't. If you're worried, use different pen names. If you don't care so much, then don't.
Study the genre you love as intensively as a martial artist studies the style they love. Understand its nuances and tropes. Then branch out and master other genres if you want to. Use their influence to modify your core love and create something even better.
I live in Australia - which tells you I have a sense of humour. We're a self-deprecating people, we Aussies. My aim is to, one day, vanish in a blinding flash of enlightenment. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to learn as many