In a few weeks, I’ll be teaching my creative writing class again (as long as enough people sign up for it…winter sometimes deters would-be participants), and once again I’ll be proclaiming: write what you love.
It seems obvious, right? Why would you write a cozy mystery if you prefer thrillers? But it’s funny how often people are deterred by sales potential. “But vampire novels are selling like hotcakes. I should write a vampire novel.” Or: “I love writing science fiction, but I’ve heard it’s a hard sell for a first time novelist.”
Stop and think about this. Why do you want to write? I have provided a quiz to see where you walk along the literary road. Answer true or false.
1) I want to work at home in my pajamas and churn out stories for a living.
2) I want the people I went to high school with to realize I turned out smarter, richer, and happier than they did.
3) I am interested in how and why people act in particular situations.
4) When I read a story I often think I could have written it better than the original author.
5) I have a lot of ideas and plan to write them into a story someday.
6) I love to read, and often finish one or two books a week.
7) I want to make a lot of money writing.
8) Whenever I read a news story about someone doing something horrible, I can’t help but try to psychoanalyze their behavior.
9) I want people to think I’m gifted.
10) I don’t want to work for someone else; I want to be my own boss.
Ha! You probably thought I was going to give low marks for answering questions 1, 2, 7 and 9 as true, but know what? Many writers feel this way. The important thing is that you answered 3, 6 and 8 as true. If you didn’t, writing fiction might be more difficult for you.
Sure, answering true to questions 2, 4 and 9 might mean you’re an ego-maniac, and answering true to both questions 1 and 2 might mean an introverted life might suit you, but it may be a that every one of us has a little bit of need to feel as if we can take care of ourselves and succeed doing it.
Now that you may have a better idea of why you want to write, consider, what is the story you want to tell? I recently started a paranormal…not my usual thing. When I presented the synopses to my agent, she recommended taking out the paranormal part. Why? Because I was out of my element. My strength, she told me, lies in social dynamics. I should concentrate on that aspect rather than the supernatural one.
In other words, I need to write with my strengths in mind. I need to write what I love, and I love writing about teens and their feelings of inadequacy. Their need to figure out who they are. Their psychology. That is, after all, what I love.
What about you?