Writing Secrets: Write for yourself, not for others
This is a counter-intuitive piece of writing advice. After all, you want to get your writing out there, I know that. You do want to be read, even if only by family and friends.
But I believe the best way to be read is to write authentically, and be true to yourself. You’ll draw the kind of readers who enjoy what you have to offer, and who are attracted to your writing voice.
If you write to please others, they’ll haunt you. All their expectations will weigh heavily on your shoulders and taunt you. Your writing will emerge stilted and will strike a false note.
Readers are clever. They’ll pick up on that. Never underestimate them.
My feelings about this were confirmed recently when I came across an interview with novelist William Kent Krueger, shortly after publishing This Tender Land.
An earlier novel, Ordinary Grace, had won the Edgar Award for Best Novel, received a great response from readers and led to a further contract for a companion novel.
“Here’s the problem,” he said. “The expectations for that companion novel were huge, crushing even. I spent nearly three years labouring over a story in which I tried to satisfy all those expections.
“Unfortunately, the completed ms fell far short of what I’d hoped.”
In the end, he asked his publishers not to publish his book, and they agreed.
“For me, here’s the beauty of this experience: When all those expectations were lifted from my shoulders and I felt free again, I saw almost immediately the story I should have been writing; a completely different kind of story, one deeply personal.”
Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: We all need a little courage to write‘
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