Friday, December 4, 2009

Writing for Yourself

We all know, at least we should, that audience is important. Without an audience, well, no sales. So, we write, in many ways, for the audience - real or imagined - that will read our brilliant writing. We write our queries in mind of that audience, knowing full well an agent is going to ask us about our audience.

I sometimes think this audience - real or imagined - is detrimental to the writing process.

Case in point - I was reading an interview with Claire Labine who has written for the soap (Days of Our Lives, not Dial) industry for years. She stressed one very important point . . . you have to write for yourself. You have to believe in what you’re writing if it’s going to have any resonance with the audience at all - full interview here.

Amen, Sister!!

The best writing I've ever done is when I wrote solely for me and not for an audience, not for my mother, not for my potential agent, editor, publisher, just little ol' me!

That's not to say the audience wasn't at the back of my mind. That's not to say that audience wasn't at the back of Claire Labine's mind, because it was.

I think what she's saying, what I've said before on this blog, is that we have to believe in every single word we write, and we have to write for ourselves first and foremost.

Yes, there are trends - vampires, boy wizards, elves, and whatever. Trends come and go. Remember bell bottom jeans??? Tie-dye????

The fact is, good writing often trumps the current trend. Making an old idea shine in a brilliant new way, often trumps the current trend.

So, write for you, believe in you, but also be aware of current trends as well. Be willing to defend your brilliance to an agent, editor, publisher or whoever.

Case in Point - I love Project Runway. One designer made a gorgeous dress, but . . . she didn't have faith in her design. Her lack of faith showed forth on the runway and . . . she didn't win. The judges all agreed if the designer had believed in her design and defended her design . . . well, she would have won.

If we fail to write for ourselves, if we do not believe in every word we are writing, than, in Claire's words, what we write will not resonate with the audience at all.



Robyn Campbell said...

WOOHOO. What a wonderful post. I TOTALLY agree with you.

Write for yourself and the writing will stand on its own. Nathan Bransford will bang your door down. Well! Maybe not bang your door down. And maybe not Mr. Bransford, but you get my point.

If we can all remember this, we WILL get agents and we WILL see our books in print.

Believing in self. That is key. Without that we don't stand a chance.

Now there's the matter of collecting monies due for advertising on my blog, which btw, has a FANTASTIC post on this the 4th day of December. That is, Putting Pen To Paper, y'all! :)

Davin Malasarn said...

Scott, I really believe in this philosophy. I think if you write for yourself, you'll hold yourself up to the highest standards, and other readers will eventually get to experience something unique and polished--the true art.

It's hard though! At least for me it is. I even have files of stories that I've promised myself never to show anyone, and even then I find myself stuck. I feel like sometimes I don't really know what I want. But, I think that's part of the writer's journey as well.

ElanaJ said...

This is so true! I think it's important to just write what's inside of you. mean tie-die is out??? (lol)

Jody Hedlund said...

I totally agree, Scott. We have to write passionately and I can't imagine doing that about something I don't believe in. It's a delicate balance of knowing how to balance what we want with what readers want. I'm still learning that and my editors are helping me. But I feel like I'll be able to do both, hopefully!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I'm a writer as well. Could you take a look at my page. I'd be interested to hear what you think.


Marybeth Poppins said...

Such a good point. I don't work on my novel so hard because I hate it that's for sure. Cuz I'm sure you haven't heard this before, but I am totally in love with my book!

I mean i am seriously writing for the money and all the people to want to read it of course....(that's what I'm suppose to say right?)

bethanyintexas said...

I've read other authors saying this (one in particular, Stephenie Meyer has said this). Great advice! Love it and definitely something I have to remember! Thanks for the reminder. :-)

Scott said...

Okay, a bit late with publishing and commenting on the comments. Oh, well, it's just that time of year. : )

Robyn - I'm seriously going to send you a bill! Ha! I think many writers, probably more aspiring than others, lose sight of writing for yourself and attempt to follow the trends. Yeah, that works to a certain extent, but it also floods agents inboxes with countless stories that are all pretty much the same. Not a good thing, not at all.

Davin - I agree with you. If we write for ourselves and hold ourselves to a higher standard, then our writing should reflect that higher standard and resonate deep within ourselves, and hopefully deep within our future readers. I also think we all have written things we don't ever want people to see. I know I have . . . and it is part of the journey.

Elana - tie die is out for the moment, but have no fear, it will be back again one day . . . just like Frosty the Snowman! Ha!

Jody - I think we all find the point of balance at some point. I know it took me many years to step away from all the helpful how to write books and just follow my heart with my writing, as well as when to write. It was a struggle, but I'm almost there. Almost. Then again, I think tipping off balance is a good thing to help make me, us, realize that complacency in our writing, in our life, isn't always a good thing.

Ms. Rhonchell - welcome and thanks for dropping by. As I make my blogging rounds, I'll make sure to check out your blog.

Marybeth - you're such a snarky person . . . which is why I like you, even though you do share a bit too much info on your blog from time to time. : )

Bethany - you're welcome. I think this post is one we need to print off and put by our computers. My poor bulletin board is running out of space. It's sometimes the simplest things that are the hardest to remember. : )


bethanyintexas said...


Yeah, that would be a good idea. Speaking of bulletin boards, I probably should get one LOL

Jayne Martin said...

Writing for yourself is how you develop an authenticity of voice and, ultimately, that is what people respond to.