Write with your head, not the heart

Over the past few months I have come to some realisation on how I perceive myself in writing. From what started off as a pre teenage dream now stands as something dead serious, to me anyway.

On my way to adulthood I learned quickly from the working world about having an important thing called work ethic. Without tooting my own horn too much I have taken such ethic and applied it to everything I deem as a success. My philosophy in life and my ultimate key to success has only really consisted of three things:

  1. Turn up on time
  2. Be nice
  3. Work hard and be useful

The above rules work together as much as they do in a formulaic way. If you feel useless in a new job at least you turn up on time and be nice. If you can’t work hard because of some arbitrary consequence then just be nice and turn up. Everyone has no excuse for rules 1 and 2, to me they are the most important.

In writing it’s hard to find success even if you apply my rules because unfortunately there is always something else denying you. All you can do sometimes if continue onwards and work towards an eventual goal you may not even see on the horizon.

This stuff I talk about here is good and all but what is my point?

Writing is indeed something very personal. Here you are pouring all emotional strength into a story and yet people are rejecting you left right and center. Much of the time we get lost in our own creativity to even think that if we want genuine success as writers it needs to be treated like a job.

Slowly everyday that is my realisation. Take away all the heartfelt stuff, emotional connection with characters and  you can still let the creativity flow. Last year I made a critical decision to let go of my first written stories.

There were many reasons but above all if I want success as a writer I need to take away the emotion and write a story with appeal across the board. Don’t get me wrong that isn’t the key all writing success because all of this is figurative but I was penning a story that meant so much to me. Perhaps it just wasn’t right for me anymore or a readership.

To all those writing a fantasy time travel pirate series for example. You may have had this in you for years and it means so much, the story very much runs in parallel to your own life. For sure go ahead and write it if that’s what it means to you. If you want to find publication not only does this piratey masterpiece need to be good enough for a literary agent to like it but also have appeal to a massive group.

Making things complicated from the start will leave you disappointed and there isn’t an agent in the world who will take on your stuff if it has zero appeal to a mainstream audience. You also need to be somebody these days. By mainstream I mean all types of folk. Adding several sub genres to a title is just narrowing down potential readers each time. My suggestion and this is all yet to be proven so take what I say with a pinch of salt, keep it to one simple and single genre.

Why do you think Justin Beiber (through gritted teeth) is such a success? Two reasons: The stuff he makes is one genre and his target audience are a large number of people. He didn’t know he would be a success to begin with but he made it easier by making stuff that appeals. How do we do the same as writers?

Treat this thing like a job and research what is hot at the moment. If you are a writer and call yourself one you have to be prepared to do parts of the job you don’t like. Much like the real world of work. Put the pirate fantasy time travel story away for a while (but don’t forget it) and pen a simple romance story or something of the young adult persuasion. Two genres that are massively popular across many ages. Widen the range of people your writing will appeal to and grow a readership. The pirate story will come later when people buy the book because who’s written it and not what it’s about.

That good people is where I currently stand. My close to heart story and pick of destiny book series the Thorn legacy is currently on hold. A futuristic science fiction action thriller is too genre heavy right now for it to actually weigh in as a success. That doesn’t mean it’s gone because some day it will return. Right now my focus is on writing simple stories with mass appeal that I can get out myself and actually build a following.

Before August I was writing this series which had a zero following and readership. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t really want to do. But if you are what you say you are (a writer) then that’s what you got to do. The story you are destined to tell comes after the story you have to tell.

My first book Open Evening comes out this year. It’s recognised as young adult in genre. I have absolutely zero expectation as to how well it will do because I don’t know. For me that is the thrill of publishing. Not knowing and being surprised by what can happen. I’m very sure soon I will officially announce the publication date and begin a countdown.

So my advice right now is write with your head. Not your heart.

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