Writing What You Love

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WRITING WHAT YOU LOVE

This chapter is mostly the words of other writers, but I really just wanted you to understand that it's okay to write what you want. I know you've heard this before, but usually it's in context of writing a non-popular genre. But what if you like the popular genres? What if you really want to write that cliche-sounding plot? Then these words are for you. These words are for every aspiring writer, so read on and be inspired.

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“If you are a writer, and you have a novel idea that you are excited about writing, write it. Don’t go on message boards and ask random Internet denizens whether or not something is allowed. … Who is the writer here? YOU ARE. Whose book is it? YOUR BOOK. There are no writing police. No one is going to arrest you if you write a teen vampire novel post Twilight. No one is going to send you off to a desert island to live a wretched life of worm eating and regret because your book includes things that could be seen as cliché.

If you have a book that you want to write, just write the d*** thing. Don’t worry about selling it; that comes later. Instead, worry about making your book good. Worry about the best way to order your scenes to create maximum tension, worry about if your character’s actions are actually in character; worry about your grammar. DON’T worry about which of your stylistic choices some potential future editor will use to reject you, and for the love of My Little Ponies don’t worry about trends. Trying to catching a trend is like trying to catch a falling knife—dangerous, foolhardy, and often ending in tears, usually yours.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to what’s getting published; keeping an eye on what’s going on in your market is part of being a smart and savvy writer. But remember that every book you see hitting the shelves today was sold over a year ago, maybe two. Even if you do hit a trend, there’s no guarantee the world won’t be totally different by the time that book comes out. The only certainty you have is your own enthusiasm and love for your work. …

If your YA urban fantasy features fairies, vampires, and selkies and you decide halfway through that the vampires are over-complicating the plot, that is an appropriate time to ax the bloodsuckers. If you decide to cut them because you’re worried there are too many vampire books out right now, then you are betraying yourself, your dreams, and your art.

If you’re like pretty much every other author in the world, you became a writer because you had stories you wanted to tell. Those are your stories, and no one can tell them better than you can. So write your stories, and then edit your stories until you have something you can be proud of. Write the stories that excite you, stories you can’t wait to share with the world because they’re just so amazing. If you want to write Murder She Wrote in space with anime-style mecha driven by cats, go for it. Nothing is off limits unless you do it badly.

And if you must obsess over something, obsess over stuff like tension and pacing and creating believable characters. You know, the sh** that matters. There are no writing police. This is your story, no one else’s. Tell it like you want to.”

-Rachel Aaron (via relatedworlds) (tumblr)

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“My own best advice to young writers is: follow your curiosity and passion. What fascinates you will probably fascinate others. But, even if it doesn’t, you will have devoted your life to what you love. An important corollary is that it’s no use trying to write like someone else. Discover what’s uniquely yours.”

-Diane Ackerman (via maxkirin)

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Now, with all that said, let's remember originality. You can take cliches you like and make them your own. This is what will make it work in a way that others can appreciate the writing too. Even if you're writing solely for yourself, you can't copy other people's works and ideas and call it your own.

“As an aspiring artist, you should strive for originality of vision. Have something to say and a fresh way of saying it. No story is worth the writing, no picture worth the making, if it’s not the work of the imagination.”

-Maurice Sendak (via writersrelief) 

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To close: So maybe you won't end up publishing that book if that genre isn't popular any more by the time you're done. But writing that cliche book helped you. You know how? If you were passionate about it, then you wrote. And writing anything can help you improve in the long run.

So even if that book doesn't get published or get credit on Wattpad, you put time into improving your writing skills, perfecting your grammar, and learning how to develop characters and plots all while writing something you're passionate about.

I wouldn't say that time was wasted.

Any time writing is well spent, so don't feel bad about writing something someone else may never read. So next time someone tells you not to write cliches, thank them politely and take into account what they're saying. They may be right that the cliche may never work. It may never be published. But if it's what you're passionate about and truly love writing, then write the heck out of it. You don't have to show anyone.

To drag a personal story into this, I love writing dystopian series. I discovered my love from them by reading The Hunger Games five years ago. It wasn't because it was popular (nobody had even heard of it yet), but the story made me realize how fun the genre can be to dive into. Before then, I'd never really had the opportunity to discover that I liked that. So if popular genres open up your interests, then that can be super inspiring. Don't be afraid of being called out on it. Others may accuse you of being a copycat, but just keep your heart in it.

To finish my personal story, I've written many dystopian novels since first reading The Hunger Games. I posted a couple online, and had a few commenters accus my plot of being too similar (To some critics, they see everything in the genre as too similar for comfort. The way I see it, there's a lot of unique indiviuality within the genre). But I kept working, because I loved it and was inspired to write in it. I'm still working on another dystopian story I started over a year ago - one I never put online. By the time I'm finished, the popularity of dystopian series will most likely have died out. And I'm okay with that. Writing this book brings me happiness, and I know I've grown as a writer while writing it. That's what matters.

I know I keep rambling on, but I want to add one more point. If you're writing the popular genre because it's...well, popular, and you want to be successful or get noticed and you think that's the way to do it: Stop.

I mean, I don't want to tell you what you can or can't do, so this is just a suggestion. But it's one to consider. Don't write in a popular genre JUST because it's popular.

Why? If you've been reading this chapter, you'll understand.

It's about writing what you love.

~Jessie

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