Being a writer these days can be difficult; expectations are high. As well as writing great books, we’re also required to be marketing gurus. We can become so bogged down with too much noise that our muse can sometimes get lost.
When we’re new to writing and begin writing our stories, it’s exciting. We’re so full of enthusiasm that we’re likely to try our hands at just about anything – even the latest trends, or the more popular genres. I know; I’ve been there myself. I used to see certain genres as my way of ‘making it’ as a writer. But is all of this really to do with pleasing ourselves or with pleasing others? We can spend our whole lives pleasing other people, but here’s the rub – pleasing other people all the time can become draining, physically as well as emotionally. When we write, we need to please ourselves first and foremost; otherwise, where is the pleasure in it?
When it comes to writing we need to be true to ourselves. Rather than imitate other authors, we need to dare to be different. It will help our work stand apart from those other books upon the shelves and one sure way to make our name memorable. Kristen Lamb has a great blog post on Steve Jobs and 5 Tips for Being a Successful Author which I highly recommend.
I had been writing for many years and the only pieces of writing I ever had published were either non-fiction pieces or poetry. The problem was I had read so many different genres, I therefore wrote in such a wide variety of them that I didn’t have any real focus. Yet, despite all of this, over the years the fiction writing I did not only helped me in my craft, but helped steer me towards my chosen genres. I experimented with what worked for me and what didn’t; I stretched myself as a writer until eventually I was writing for me – I had lost all interest in trends and writing in genres I wasn’t comfortable with. I had finally found my voice.
While watching The Book Club a few months back, guest author China Mieville said something that caught my attention and I just had to write it down. He said: ‘The job of a writer is not to give the readers what they want; the job of a writer is to make readers want what we give’. It’s a valid point and one that he has apparently been saying for years. He believes this might make the writers’ job harder, but it also makes it much more interesting.
Yes, our writing needs to be something that both readers and publishers will like, but it also needs to be something that we ourselves will like. Forget the latest trend; instead concentrate on your craft in order to find your own unique voice. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your writing, but write with passion. If you don’t feel that, neither will your readers.
Are you struggling to find your writer’s voice? Are you experimenting with your writing? Do you agree with China Mieville? Do you have difficulties with focusing on one task at a time?
Image by Debbie Johansson.