Fads are everywhere. Things become popular one day and are gone the next. Writing is no stranger to fads and popular ideas are everywhere. When one idea becomes popular several copies follow. Think about how popular vampires have been, or dystopian novels. Where one pops up, five more follow. In five or ten years we’ll all be moved on to a new overused plot or trope.
This leads me to Writer Life Lesson #2: Write What You Want
There are several reasons why you should write what YOU want. If you are writing to please someone else, or because popular fads get published, or you just want to make money, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. It may work out for a short time, but in the long run it is career and passion suicide. It will get tiresome and boring and you will hate it.
On the other hand, wonderful things happen if you write for yourself and what you want to write. Every piece will get your heart pumping and your hands itching to write just one more scene.To write what you want, to write for yourself, is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
Write your work and your ideas, no matter what the popular fad of the week is. It’s easy to want to fall into a fad, to get ourselves thinking “Well the best selling novel right now is about werewolves so I am going to write a book about werewolves and make it big!”, and yes, anyone could make it big writing about werewolves, but that doesn’t mean the werewolf fad will always be popular.
Publishing a novel takes a long time. With the weeks to wait to hear back from publishers and agents, weeks for rewrites and edits, more weeks after that for formatting, cover design and PR, but the time your book hits the shelves it could be a year and a half or more. Think about where you were a year and a half ago, think about what was popular then and what is popular now. Back to the werewolf example, if werewolves are still popular in a year and a half to two years, your book is probably catching the tail end of that wave. Your book will get some sales, but slowly be phased out with the rest.
I’ve fallen into the same trap. I wrote a vampire novel, and a werewolf novel, or parts of them anyway. They ended up being scrapped pretty quickly. Might I finish them eventually, or rewrite them entirely? Maybe, but now is not the right time. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I even wrote a novel with basically the same plot as Twilight, or it started out that way. Toward the end it became its own plot and had it’s own themes. When I rewrote it about a year later, it became much better. That piece is still in the works, and it may be published someday, but only after I can give it the proper time it needs.
Which leads me to my next point: If you feel you must write something that is considered a fad, change it up enough, make it as different as you can, give readers something they don’t expect to keep them reading. Fads go out of style because we, as a society, get used to them, they become boring and trite. If you can surprise the reader, show them a new side or something they didn’t consider, they will keep reading.
Back to writing for yourself, what you want to write, and publishing. If you write something that you didn’t choose or something that you think will make you money, remember it is something you will have to keep revisiting. Something that will continue to need work and edits and rewrites. It’s not something you can just write once and send in expecting it to be perfect. If you write something you love working on, something you love to revisit like an old friend, it will be easier and more fun.
And isn’t that what writing is supposed to be about?
What is your favorite piece you’ve written so far? What was it about?