So, I have to say, last week’s rant “Lies about Writing” was pretty popular. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, it’s basically a satirical view on some quotes about writing. When I was thinking about what to write about this week, I figured I’d flip the script and go with some truths about writing.
Having decided that, I turned on my greatest resource for writing inspiration, ie Pinterest, and began searching for the truth…the writing truth.
1. Write what you want to write.
That’s the dream of all writers, isn’t it? But is it true? Yes and no. Obviously, it depends on the writer. For novelists, I’d say that this is partially true. It’s tough to break out of that niche genre your fanbase loves you for. Do you ever hear about Stephen King writing a rom-com? For a full-time novelist that has an established fanbase, I’d imagine that would be difficult. I say imagine because I do not have a fanbase… unless you count my friends and family. Imagine that you’re Danielle Steele and you tell your agent that you’d like to write a book about an alien clown that murders children. I would love to be a fly on the wall during that meeting.
Having said that, there are authors who have been able to blend genres so that their fanbase is more like a fancity (a blend of different fans with different tastes. Base…City…Get it?). Take Nora Roberts, for example. People that haven’t picked up one of her books would most likely assume that she’s strictly a romance author, which is a fair assumption. But did you know that a lot of her books blend genres? Shelter in Place is a survivor tale while also adding romantic elements all the while keeping a thriller base. Year One is a post-apocalyptic supernatural dystopian book, think The Stand but with magic.
On the other side of the coin, you have journalists who can’t write what they would like all the time. As a guy who works at a newspaper, I can tell you that there have been many instances where I didn’t want to write a particular article. However, I wrote them because they were assigned to me by my editor.
2. The desire to write was planted within you for a reason.
Have you ever started talking to a complete stranger and you ask “So, (name of stranger), what do you do for a living?” The stranger starts to ramble on for a bit about what they get paid to do. And by the end of the ramble, you think to yourself, “Huh, I totally see (name of stranger) as a (stranger’s career).”
Except for a gas station attendant. I’ve never once thought “Huh, I totally see James Balthasar Master as a gas station cashier.”
I very much believe that the desire to write was planted inside of me for a reason. Now, maybe the reason was to test the patience of my readers. Maybe it was so that I could take out all my rage and aggression on fictional characters instead of real life ones. Maybe, it was so that one day someone might read something of mine and get inspired or laugh a little.
We’re not meant to understand God’s plans or why He plants these desires in each of us. What I do know is that we’re meant to nurture that desire and grow it into something that’ll produce something fruitful.
3. Why I write: Because kidnapping people and forcing them to act out your interesting make-believe worlds is technically illegal.
Umm… I really shouldn’t have to explain why this is a truth. If you’re having trouble with understanding it, I would suggest you seek help.
4. “The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.”
Whoever this John Dufresne is, I can’t disagree with him. Getting that first draft written is probably the hardest thing that a writer will ever do. During that first draft you’ll face doubt, temptation to play video games and/or other activities, binge Stranger Things on Netflix even though you’ve watched the entire series so many times you’ve lost count. There are a plethora of things you can be doing other than writing your first draft. However, if you’re truly committed to getting your book out into the masses, then the first step is to sit down, shut that television off, and get to work.
5. There are two kinds of writers: 1. Those who are insane and 2. Those who are good at hiding it.
Look at it this way: writers interact with imaginary friends every day. We send fictional people to their deaths 24/7. We literally play God. We spend an excruciating and insane amount of time trying to decide on what words to use. Should we use “obsidian” or “black”? Do we kill off a mentor character so that the main character can grow? Should we reveal that the villain is in actuality the father to the main character right after the villain maims the main character by chopping off his arm? Do we use Star Wars as writing references too many times to prove our point?
Yes, yes to all of the above.
And do you know why we do it? It’s because we LOVE doing it! When people ask me what I do for a living and I say “Oh, I’m a writer” the immediate follow up question is “But what do you get paid for?” The hard truth is that writers don’t get paid much unless you’re a big time novelist. Writers do what they do not because of the money, but because that desire has been planted inside of us.
And in a world where money rules, that could seem pretty crazy.
Hopefully, you found some of these truths to actually be rather truthful. Sure, I could have been more sarcastic about them, but I thought I’d share some lighter commentary this week. In truth, it can be rather enlightening sometimes.
Well, enough puns for one week. I’ll be back next week so keep healthy and write on!
*Editor’s note: All the images can be found on Pinterest*
Categories: Mastering the Craft