Monday, November 14, 2011

Write What You Like

Dude, over the past few days, I've spoken to hundreds of teens and a handful of adults. I sat on 5 panels with other authors with kids from 7th - 12th grade. And every time, someone asks these inevitable questions:

1. Why do you write?

2. How do you get your ideas?
and
3. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I feel like I've blogged about all of these things before, but as I was sitting on the panels this weekend, it was like an epiphany for me personally. Like, the advice I needed to remind myself of or something. Today, I'm only going to answer the third question.

What advice do I have for aspiring authors?

It's simple, really. Write a story that you'd like to read, and write it well.

That's it. If you do that, then there's no need to worry about stars, or best book lists, or reviews, or anything else really.

Write the book you'd like to read. (Because you'll have to read and re-read and revise and re-revise that book a lot.)

Trust that there will be other people in this vast world that are the same type of reader you are.

That's it. The end.

Are you writing what you like? Or trying to fit a trend?


Dudes! Today is the first day of the BECOME (by Ali Cross) giveaways! You have a chance to win a copy on Michelle McLean's blog, on twitter at 11 AM Mountain time (1 PM Eastern) with the hashtag #BECOME, and by filling out this form.

44 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

And keep writing stories you enjoy, because eventually one of them will be marketable.

Claire Dawn said...

Exactly. It's easy to get caught up in popular contests. But I think it mre important to write the type of book you want ot read. The type of book about which you always say, "I wish there were more books with..." Because somewhere, someone else is thinking the exact same thing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wrote what I liked even though it wasn't popular at the time. Really glad I did.

Journaling Woman said...

I do both. I'm trying to think trending and then I go back to what I like to write best.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice. You have to like what you write because you do spend so much time with the manuscript. Thanks for the advice. And so excited for Ali.

Laura Pauling said...

I write what I'd like to read! But ha ha, not sure if that hurts or helps me. Actually, I enjoy reading many different kinds of story from serious to humorous but what I love is a great story with a twist I didn't see coming.

Liza said...

Yay! I writing what I like to read!

Matthew MacNish said...

Good point. I can't imagine having to do this if I didn't like what I'd written. Since I've re-read and re-wrote it oh, like a thousand times.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Yep. Definitely write what you love to read. The jury's still out on whether loving to read everything and wanting to write everything helps or hurts the chance of getting published. ;o)

LynnRush said...

Yep. I pretty much write what I like. I always have. I was always told I wrote a little too old for YA but too young for Adult.

A couple of years later there's a new category "New Adult" which was, evidently, what I'd been writing all along. So, it all works out in the end. So, stick to writing what you love.

Miriam Forster said...

I don't think I could be accused of trend-following. :) Mostly I just write what I like, but I will try different things to see if I enjoy them. I tried a paranormal romance once, and it was just okay. Maybe I'll go back to it later, but it just wasn't where my interest lay.

Slamdunk said...

I bet you are answering those questions while talking in your sleep.

I am definitely writing what I like. "If you build it, they will come."

anonymeet said...

As always, great advice!

I'm writing what I like. I don't even know how to categorize it - you know that part, where you're like X novel is a paranormal romance/science fiction/thriller/whatever . . .

It doesn't fit neatly into any category I can think of. I guess I'll figure out what to call it when I cross that bridge . . .

angelaquarles.com said...

So true! I felt like I was in a relationship with my WIP during the revision stage - was in love with it - and was being one of those bad friends who don't hang out with their BFFs because they've got a new guy. Anyway, the initial bloom is fading, but that's okay because now I have to enter the objective phase anyway and gird my loins for the long haul.

Susan R. Mills said...

It's the only way I can write. If I don't like it, then I can't write it well.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I write and read what I like.

As you could tell if you've read any of my lack of interest in feather earring Tweets, I'm not much of a trend follower. ;)
~ Wendy

Stephanie McGee said...

I always write what I like, what grabs me. If I didn't I wouldn't finish anything. Ever.

Rachel Morgan said...

This reminds me of that quote "If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it" ~ Toni Morrison.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

GREAT post, Elana. And yes, I'm writing what I like and loving it. :)

E.R. King said...

I've just moved away from YA to write a women's fiction piece. It's more my speed, more what I read, more what I want to write. It's been a blast! It's amazing how much fun it is to write something I connect with on all levels.
Great post!

Sarah Allen said...

So true! Thanks for the reminder :) Fortunately the book I'm working on is exactly the kind of book I like. We'll see how it ends up.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Definitely writing the books I want to read! When I was querying this last book, I couldn't even think of a single book to compare it to! Which isn't necessarily a good thing, but I guess it means that I wasn't writing to a trend. :)

ali cross said...

Oh hey! It's 11 a.m. RIGHT NOW! Guess I'd better boogie over to Twitter!

And I totally agree with your advice. 100%

Theresa Milstein said...

I love this advice. It's too hard to anticipate what will be the next big thing. And by the time something is a big thing, by the time you write, edit, and submit, and so on, it's too late.

Mel Fowler said...

I'm writing what I love, and I'm learning how to do it well. Hopefully all will go well and I can get my book published someday, and honestly even if it doesn't go far, I know that my sisters and kids will appreciate it. As well as me... I will probably look at it everyday to remind me that hard work pays off.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I've always said that I write stories I would like to read. Why else write 'em?

Meredith said...

Best advice ever. Seriously. It makes all the difference.

Kelly Polark said...

Excellent advice. And yes I do!

Alice said...

I write what I like, but try to make it marketable. For instance, I like writing fairytale retellings and have one that's multicultural fantasy and one that's urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

Krispy said...

That's possibly the most important piece of advice. Thanks for the reminder.

Imogen said...

I just write what I like, because writing the story is so much more fun if it's something I'd like to read. There's less chance of me getting bored while trying to finish it.

Marsha Sigman said...

That's the best advice. Write what you would read and don't give up.

I think with my other manuscripts, I let what other people thought (or what I was afraid they would think) matter too much. The one I'm working on now...all me. So of course, I love it.lol

Jessie Humphries said...

I think I started writing towards a "trend" because an agent gave me an idea, but it really became my own. Now, it is my passion.

Jemi Fraser said...

It's taken me a year of playing around with different styles, genres, age levels to realize this very thing. Now I've got my feet more firmly planted on the right path. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yeah, I think that is the best advice. :-) Otherwise an author can really make him/herself crazy trying to chase trends and fit a puzzle piece where it doesn't quite belong.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

It only makes sense to write a story you would like to read and would enjoy -- since those characters are going to be in your head for awhile! Great advise, Roland

Angela Brown said...

I can honestly say that what I'm writing is something I love. I have a love of different subgenres for fantasy and sci-fi so I love vampires, were-animals, shifters, fae, dragons, elves, gray matter knights. I love it all. Not sure if I'm coming on the tale end of a trend or catching the wave of one, but I really like what I'm writing.

Angela Brown said...

I can honestly say that what I'm writing is something I love. I have a love of different subgenres for fantasy and sci-fi so I love vampires, were-animals, shifters, fae, dragons, elves, gray matter knights. I love it all. Not sure if I'm coming on the tale end of a trend or catching the wave of one, but I really like what I'm writing.

Christa said...

Well, yes it IS that simple. Although there is the other part of the equation which is write the story you NEED to tell. Especially when it is itching to get out of you. But I guess those two things are sort of wrapped into each other.

PurpleMist. said...

Thank you for this :)
As a young writer, this really made me put everything into perspective. I don't need to write what I think OTHER people will like, but what I myself would read.

Laura said...

Simple, and yet so key that we all spend years striving for it. I'm writing what I want to read, and hoping one of these days I'll nail it- both publicly and for myself.

Heather said...

Well said, my friend, very well said. I always write what's in my heart, and though it hasn't always garnered the attention of agents, it has made me happy.

VR Barkowski said...

I agree you must write what you enjoy and write it well. But to suggest to novice writers this is the end of the story (pardon the pun) is both naive and misleading. Writers, particularly if their goal is to be traditionally published, need to prepare for agents and editors who will praise their writing, voice, and story to the hilt then proceed to advise the writer on how to turn it into something into something "marketable," in other words formulaic. Cynical? Absolutely. True? Absolutely.

Shari Green said...

That's exactly it, Elana -- we've got to write the book we'd love to read. Seems so obvious, but it took me a while to really embrace that. Sure I know not to write to trends, but when a fab, totally marketable idea comes my way, it's still hard to say "yeah, but I'm not the girl to write that one because my heart just wouldn't be in it".

Thanks for reminding me of this crucial bit of wisdom! :)

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