I’ve seen and been given a lot of advice over the decades on what to write. I’ve heard everything from looking at current trends in movies to what is selling on Amazon. I’ve been told to write from the heart, write what I know and most often to write what I think people will buy. So, like anyone who has been writing for awhile, I am going to give you my sage advice. Because I’ve been writing for over 30 years, which qualifies me to tell you what you should do with your art. Right? Wrong!
Art, like anything, is all at once something deeply personal and very public. Oh, sure you might not ever send it to an agent, you might not ever try to get it published, but like any artists, you will succumb to the temptation to show it to another living, breathing human being. When you do, your art suddenly changes. Where before it was this little creation, all your own, your bright-eyed, shining little baby. Now it has been handed over, fondled, caressed, made googly-eyes at and loved by another person. It’s almost like having a threesome. You’ve shared something intimate, wholly yours with another person. And it changes it.
When it comes to writing, you have to understand that what you will create, first incubating in your mind and then carrying within the womb of your word processor, will one day grow up. It will make funny noises at you, will spit-up on your shoulder, crawl and eventually start walking. It will run, around the house, out the door and right out into public, and when it does, you don’t really have any control over what they think, of it or you. So, now comes the part where I tell you what you should write and why. Are you ready? No? Good, I’m telling you anyway.
You should write what you want. That’s it. Nothing grandiose or really well-thought out. Sure you could do tons of market research, ask people through polls what they like to read and watch the current trends in movies and best-sellers and what will you end up with? Probably a YA story about a team of super-hero/vampire/werewolves in a love triangle slathered with BDSM (not putting down BDSM here, it’s awesome you should… oh never mind.)
The point is if you write what you want, if you write what you love, if you write the story that is inside of you, you’ll do a better job of it. I love to write small stories. I like personal, deeply intimate ideas. I like small casts. I love when a story is set in a small place, where I can lovingly detail something so intimate. As a reader, these are the types of stories I love as well. So, that’s it. My advice to you. Shut away all the people telling you what you should write (except me, of course) and write what you love.
Now, why aren’t you writing?