Thursday, 28 March 2013

Write the book you want?

The most common advice I hear as a writer is to "write what you want to write."
Don't write to a formula.
Don't write for the market.
Don't write what you think agents and publishers might want.
Just write the book you want to write.

This is exactly what I've been doing and I'm on my third book now. I wrote what I wanted and didn't consider whether they were commercial or whether there was a market or any of that stuff. I wrote them because I was swept away by an idea and I wanted to find out what happened next.
What if what you want to write is not commercial or marketable or popular?
What if you don't have a killer concept or a breakout idea that's never been done?
What if the book you want to write is not the book an agent or publisher will want to take on?
What if you spend a year or more on an idea that will never sell?

Are we setting ourselves up for failure by assuming we can write what we want and be able to sell it? Should we be thinking about our work as more than just a way to express ourselves?

There seem to be more questions than answers in this blog post and that's because I'm afraid I don't really know the answer!

I think that what the advice really means is that only when we allow ourselves creative freedom will we ever write anything worthy of being published. Formulaic writing to try and cash in on the latest vampire craze or  dystopian mania will never ring as true as something we write from our heart.
I think that's true but I worry nonetheless.

What do you think?


  1. It is definitely true. Write what you know you can write best. That's when your real talent will shine through.

    1. But will be talent be marketable? ;) Thanks Jane.

  2. But can you do both? I try to take a subject that I really want to write about and then write it in a style that appeals to the market. Though this has hardly proved lucrative for me so far! Nonetheless, I don't think it has to be an all-or-nothing choice, you can meet the market halfway.

    1. I hope so Nick ! It sounds like a reasonable idea anyway. Hope that it works for you soon!

  3. I believe you need to write the first draft of the book you really need to write. You have to keep the door shut & the analytical side of your mind out of it.
    Then when you know what the core of your story really is, identify what is truly non-negotiable. After that, edit till your work is suitable for an appropriate market - do your homework, think critically - but hang onto that core.
    That way I believe & hope you will make a go of it.

    1. Thank you, I hope I'll manage to get all the pieces to fit together one day! X

  4. This article clears all the doubts and confusions that will have issues while pretending & not getting there where they want to. Excellent Article!!!
    Great interview! Read Me Dead sounds like it has a really good story in there!
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