Hi, SE Readers. In the course of your writing journey, many of you have probably had someone say to you, “Write what you know.” You may have heard, “Write what you don’t know.” The latter designed to encourage writers to conduct research and broaden their knowledge.
But have you ever had someone say, “You can reach more people writing magazine articles than you can with full-length books.” Or, “I can see you writing _______.”
In either case, you know neither of those ideas appeals to you. But if you are in the early stages of your writing career, you may be eager to become a published author, and you give in. You listen to the words of others, especially seasoned authors because you believe they know more than you.
You’re writing, but you’re not happy. You force the words to come, but the finished draft sounds awkward or disjointed.
Today, I’m going to talk about writing what you want to write and give an example from my own writing journey.
Last month, my husband and I spent a few days in a rented cabin near Broken Bow, Oklahoma. We had a wonderful time—relaxing, visiting a nearby lake, and spending time in a hot tub. Broken Bow is a relatively short drive from our home. It’s a beautiful place for a quick getaway, so we’ve visited there several times.
Of course, my laptop made the journey with me. Yes, I know I was supposed to be on vacation, but I was on a roll with my WIP and didn’t want to lose the momentum. Our cabin had a covered patio, and I would go outside in the early mornings, sit at the table, and write. I’m pleased to report I made progress and was able to get a couple of chapters written in the short time we were there.
It also brought to mind another trip to Broken Bow several years ago when I, along with three other friends, rented a cabin for a couple of days. Our purpose? A writer’s retreat.
What could be better? A log house in the middle of the woods surrounded by nature. I was confident that I would come home with lots of inspiration and having written lots of words.
When we arrived, we all scoped out our space. With three bedrooms and a loft, we all had plenty of room and wouldn’t disturb one another. Two friends were working on a collaborative project, and the third friend had a series of short stories to write. It didn’t take long for them to settle in and fingers began pecking away on keyboards.
Back then, I was writing mostly short, inspirational pieces and toying with an idea for a non-fiction book written from the perspective of a cancer survivors spouse. I knew what it was like to stand by a husband while he was going through chemo treatments. I knew about making it on a limited income while he was on short-term disability. I knew that along with the cancer treatment, doctor’s appointments, and hospital stays life goes on. And Murphy often shows up. “If something can go wrong, it will.”
Surely there are young wives out there who are going through (or will go through) something similar. Maybe my story can help them get through a difficult time.
I opened my laptop. Nada. Nothing. No inspiration.
Okay, I need some time to relax. The day job has been stressful, and once I clear my mind, the words will come.
Day two arrived. Still no words. Not even a blog post. So, I turned to my other passion—photography. I took walks around the cabin. Snapped a few photos. Nature walks almost always inspire me. They didn’t.
By day three, I was almost ready to give up on writing. But somehow, I knew that good would come from the long weekend, so I pressed on. It took a while, but I finally realized the problem.
I wasn’t writing fiction. At the age of ten, when I first knew I wanted to be a writer, I never considered anything other than fiction. Unconsciously, I allowed the voices of others to dictate the direction of my writing.
It took me a while, but when I transitioned from non-fiction to fiction, story ideas and words began to flow. I found excitement in writing. No longer did it feel like drudgery.
If you’re new to writing, listen to your inner voice. Chances are, you already know what you want to write. If it’s non-fiction, that’s okay. If it’s fiction, pick your genre. Whether it’s mystery, suspense, romance, fantasy, or sci-fi, go for it.
Your dreams can come true.