My Life · Writing

Deciding What to Write

Anyone who writes knows writing is time consuming. You open your word processor, and five hours can pass in the blink of an eye. Some people have no problem choosing a project and sticking to it. These are the people who are already successful writers. Many of us who are unpublished aren’t unpublished because we lack talent, but rather because we lack focus.

I’ve dreamt of being a published author since I was around eight years old. When I was growing up, I always had tons of incomplete stories on my computer hard drive. I wrote all the time, but my stories lacked substance. A character would speak to me, and I would sit at my computer for hours typing whatever part of their story they were telling me. I had numerous characters and storylines, but they didn’t go anywhere nor were they stories publishers wanted to see.

In high school and college, I wrote less because of time constrictions, and the fact I didn’t think writing was a practical career path. I wanted to do something that would allow me to be independent and not rely on my parents for money. I wanted to have plenty of money in the bank to be able to afford a decent life. Writing wasn’t guaranteed to provide that for me, so I set my writing aside to go to business school.

I’ve now been out of college for three years, and I’ve decided that writing is my destiny. It’s what makes me happy. It’s what I want to do with the rest of my life. However, I know it will always be there, so I don’t have to make it my #1 priority at all times. I think, ultimately, everything I’m doing in my life at any given moment in time can help me with my writing. Writers can take inspiration from literally everything and anything, which is why we define all things in life as research. What I don’t want, though, is to have my life pass me by and having not seen my true passion published, so I am making an effort to write a little bit every day. The problem I find myself running into most is, What should I write? 

It’s not that I have writer’s block. I have plenty of ideas I could be writing.

I’ve realized, though, that I can’t just write whatever is on my mind. After all, what I finally publish will define me. The genre I publish in will define me as a writer, and it will define my target audience. I always say, “I’m not defined,” and I’m not. Not yet, but publishing will define me.

Today, I went to a book sale, and there were numerous authors I recognized. There were some authors whose books I had a home but had not had a chance to read, so I didn’t know if I liked their writing. I decided that I did not trust them as writers to know if buying another book by them was worth my money. Then, I saw books by Jodi Picoult and Stephen King, authors whom I’ve read numerous books by, and I gladly placed a few of their books in my bag to buy. That’s because I trust  them as authors, even if I haven’t loved every single book by them. I’ve liked more than I’ve disliked, so I know there’s a decent chance that I’ll like another book by them.

New authors have a huge challenge: Gaining readers’ trust. That first book is crucial, so whatever I choose to write and publish first has to be good enough to build a readership and build trust among those who will be buying and reading my books. It’s a huge step, and I take it very seriously.

I know that if I spend too much time dwelling on what to write, I’ll probably never fulfill my dream. However, all writing is practice. Rather than working on my many incomplete ideas, I’m writing this blog entry instead.

When you don’t know what to write, read. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately.

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