Sunday, August 19, 2012

Write what you want

I’ve never been one to chase fads. I shudder when I hear the expression “out of style.” Shortly after that particular expression surfaces there is often a figure quoted, which reflects the necessary coinage required to get back “in style.” Whereupon life is good again. All too briefly.

You know the expression: lather, rinse, repeat? Chasing trends feels that way to me, like some endless shampoo cycle. Only it’s your sanity and bank account that’s getting washed out.

Okay, so we’ve established that I’m a genuine stick-in-the-mud. This is the point where I draw a quick parallel to writing and wrap up the blog post, isn’t it?

Err... sort of.

I titled this post “Write what you want.” Underline and emphasize the word ‘you’ in that title. Because that’s not only where the writing comes from, it’s who the writing really targets at the end of the day. Strip away all the readers, fans, agents, editors, critics, et al., and you’re left with the one person who really defines success.

You, the author.

Obviously this implies you actually have a definition of success for your writing. While this could amount to anything under the sun, I would strongly encourage you to focus on factors that are more in your control. Completing your novel is one example. Selling 1,000 copies a month of it is not. Writing a story in a totally different genre is good. Getting it to the top 5 ranking on Amazon is not.

Equally bad is defining your success along the lines of: “being the next X, Y or Z.” That’s sure tempting, isn’t it, comparing your appeal or your book’s acceptance to some popular name or work.


Whoever it is, whatever they wrote, that’s their success. Not yours. Make your own, using your terms. Stay out of the chase and run your own race.

A writer’s sanity and psyche is usually under enough pressure as it is, so figure it out and write what you want.

You just might start your own trend. You never know.