Friday, November 14, 2014

Write What You Want To Write: Why You Shouldn't Follow The Current Writing Trend


I’ve been noticing that there is always a trend in the fiction writing circle. Very observant of me, I know. It changes randomly throughout the years, but currently the market is full of paranormal romances and dystopian novels. The years of vampires, werewolves, and zombies dominating bookshelves seems to be fading out of the picture. Hardcore science fiction, though well-liked a couple decades ago, is not popular among the majority of readers today. The book marketplace is unpredictable and sometimes confusing. How am I supposed to know what to write? How do I know what will sell?

I’ve often heard publishers and other writer’s say that you must market to your audience. However, I think many people take this far too literally. They write novels about young wizards and broomsticks because J.K. Rowling wrote about a training school for witches and people liked it. Stephanie Meyer’s is writing about werewolves and romance and people are buying, so add werewolves into your work. Suzanne Collins created a series where teenagers slaughter each other for the entertainment of others and people went nuts, so that must mean that gladiators are what you should write about. John Green told the story of two romantically involved teenagers struggling with cancer and it was just made into a movie, so go pound out a tear-jerking teen romance if you want to be successful. 

This is not how authors should behave.


We are writers, not copy-cats. Writing for the crowd is a very, very bad idea. Why? Readers are fickle. They will change their interests quickly and without warning, leaving you with a generic dystopian novel while the new trend has turned to medieval fantasy.

Besides, the authors who are famous are not the ones who wrote for the crowd. They are the ones who wrote what they wanted to write, created worlds that nobody had ever seen before, published in a genre that had faded into the background.

Take Tolkien, for example – who had ever heard of hobbits before? Allegorical stories about parallel worlds were not a popular writing topic until C.S. Lewis published The Chronicles of Narnia.  A children’s book that contains quantum physics, phrases in different languages, and megaparsecs was considered foolish by publishers until Madeleine L’Engle proved them all wrong. Writing a book about racial injustice during the 1960’s was said to be too controversial before Harper Lee made a best-seller out of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Many people raise the point that, with literally millions of books out there, it is impossible to be original like those authors. Well, I have news for you. Those writers weren’t perfectly original. Nobody really is.

Many authors write a mix of ideas gathered from their favorite novelists. Tolkien was clearly influenced by folklore, C.S. Lewis’s writing is slightly reminiscent of George MacDonald, Madeleine L’Engle gathered concepts from works of Einstein, and Harper Lee recorded ideas expressed by people like Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.

No writer is truly original. But then again, no great writer has ever followed the beaten path. There is a very fine line between being a copy-cat and being a writer.

If you take a close look, all great authors became great only because they followed their hearts, not the voices of those who told them that their writing was simply too far outside of everything else. They took an ordinary idea and wrote about it differently than anyone else could have ever imagined.

They wrote what they knew people needed, not what the people said they wanted. *Cue The Dark Knight music*

Sorry, I just couldn’t stop myself from doing that. 

Back to my main point. Ernest Hemingway once said – “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” And he was absolutely correct. When you write, you should not follow the direction of others. Forget the trending novels and genres. Sit down and write what is in your heart. Let your feelings, beliefs, and interests spill out onto the pages.

Sit down and bleed for them.

Easier said than done, I know. But isn’t it better to write about what you want to write about? Something that you feel to be important? 

Is there something you’ve wanted to write about, but never have because you’re not sure how it will be received? I’m challenging you to sit down and type it out. It doesn’t matter if it’s not trending. It doesn’t matter if you think nobody will buy it. It doesn’t even matter if you’re pretty sure that readers will think it’s stupid. Because there will always be that one person who will enjoy your writing, whose day will be turned around after reading it.

And that one person just might be yourself.
Now go, ignore the trends, stop worrying about what will sell. Just sit down and write your heart out. And don’t forget to let me know how it goes by commenting below or tweeting me: @_HannahHeath. Because no, these kinds of blog posts are not trending right now, but I wrote it anyway on the off chance that it might help somebody. So if that somebody is you, you have no idea how happy it will make me to hear about it!

Related articles: 
Challenging Creative Writers To Be More Creative
Be A Writer, Not An Author

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23 comments:

  1. Great job Hannah! I slid into this subject while writing a post about the differences between indie authors and traditionally published author.
    Where we (the indies) should mimic the traditional publishing world and where we should part company.
    http://ernsangia.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/indie-authoring-art-or-business/

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  2. Nice one, Hannah. (And love the Dark Knight bit...)
    I don't normally do this, I really don't, BUT...I had just echoed same sentiment in despair... http://literastein.blogspot.com/2014/11/purple-puerto-english-tech-talk-blues.html

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  3. Perfect timing with your post as I have been pondering many writing options. Thanks for the reminder to simply listen to my heart and write from that place.

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    1. I'm so glad it hit home with you. I'm sure your writing will turn out amazing!

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  4. Hello again. Sorry to bother you but I just wanted to say AMEN SISTER! I love this post so much! Everything you said was true and you make so many great points! I love your blog! Keep it up!

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    1. You're not bothering me. Getting comments is like getting packages in the mail. =) I'm so glad you enjoyed this post and even more happy that you like my blog as a whole. Thanks for the comment! Happy writing.

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  5. Good stuff, I have always thought that writing what you feel makes for the best stuff. Think I will sit down and write a paranormal, historical romance, western vampire mystery adventure centered around how to make money writing novels. Hope it works.

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    1. Dude. That book sounds amazing. Let me know how it goes! I would totally read something like that.
      Thanks for the comment!

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  6. Thank you, seriously. There was this book idea that I was nervous to write about, but I think that it may work now. Thanks for boosting my confidence!

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    1. Yay! Go for it. I'm sure it will be epic.

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  7. Wonderful advice Hannah! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Pretend I'm giving you a bear hug and a fist bump for your awesomeness.

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    1. Aw. Pretend I'm giving you one back for your niceness. =)

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  9. I know this is an old post but I shall comment anyway because of your genius. Every time a read a blog post about what trends to follow (and, yeah, I've read quite a few of them) I cringe internally. It produces sub par stories, because all the writer wants to do is make a buck. They don't care about what they're writing. And it shows.

    Of course you don't have to be completely original. Like you said, no one is. But you DO have to write the story of your heart. Or else, you'll be miserable.

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    1. Everything you just wrote is spot-on. Especially your last sentence. Your heart will kill you for writing about something you don't really care about. If you're going to spend time on a writing project, then that project should be your own and not something you picked up because maybe it will sell.

      Thanks for commenting! Getting comments on my "original posts" always makes me happy. =)

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  10. Thanks for sharing that. There's this story that has been in my head since I was 12 years old and I've come up with excuse after excuse as to why I can't write it. Unfortunately that hasn't stopped it from re-entering my head. lol.
    After reading your post I realize that I need to write it down. I don't know if anyone is going to love it, but I know that I have a message to share and if my writing helps someone then I owe it to myself and to them. Thanks again Hannah :)

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    1. Very late response, but: I'm so excited to read this comment, Claire! Go you! Keep up the amazing writing. I'm sure there are many people out there who will be blessed by your decision.

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  11. I just told my friend the same thing and recommended your blog to him! He loved this!

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  12. Very True. Well done. The fact is that people tell when you write something just because it's popular. There's no heart in it, and that is what I believe all the trend-changing authors did - they wrote with their heart and readers noticed. "Narnia" is still one of the most popular stories of all time. "Lord of the Rings" is not only famous and well-loved, but has scores of fanatics that rave about every time they read or watch it (I'm one of them, by the way). "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of the South African high school set books. And when John Buchan wrote "The Thirty-Nine Steps", he admitted to a friend that he wrote it because he wanted to read it.

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  13. Did you know that originality when Lord of the rings (and sword of shannara,if you love Lord of the rings you will love this book. Suposidly the authors actually knew one another. One sent the other a dead rose with the note "from one failed author to another") can you beleave no one liked these books I mean mention Lord of the rings now and every one knows what your taking about.

    This really struck home with me been writing the same story for 16 years growing the characters not because I expect any one elce to love it but because I love it.

    By the way I can't figure out how to subscribe been reading your posts off of Pinterest and love how real you are

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  14. I love this. It's something I struggle with, from time to time (okay, if I'm being completely honest, it's all the time). I want to write books that people will want to buy, but the story that God has placed on my heart is different. I have to write about the things that deeply move me, and my hope is to write for God's glory alone. Thanks for this beautiful post.

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