*Note – I really wanted the title of this post to read “Be Authentic, Write Authentic.” However, the grammarian in me just…couldn’t….deal…
Note #2 – Today’s post was also inspired by fellow author Tara Chevrsett, whose gives great advice.
Regardless of whether you think I know anything or not, I do know this – if you’re asking too many questions about your characters or about your writing, then you need to put down the pen, get up from the computer and go out and get another job because you’ll never be a successful writer.
Successful writer (def) –one who enjoys writing, enjoys what they write. (note, not necessarily a commercial success)
I do a LOT of skimming forums, blogs and groups. I am a nosy so and so, really I am. I’ve seen these questions about characters “Should my character do XYZ? Should s/he be ABC? Do you think…do you think…doyouthink?”
Stop asking people what they think. Focus on what you think.
Story Break: I had a reader read my story who then told me not what she thought about the story itself but what she thought about the characters.
Suffice to say, I didn’t give a shit what she thought about the characters. They were who they were and that’s how they sprang from my head. Yeah, she’s a pot smoker who’s afraid of the dark and talk too much on the phone with her mother. By the way? There’s no cell service and her mother’s dead. Overblown? Maybe. But who cares? That’s what popped into my head.
Now, if I had been a different person, I might have said “okay, so, I should change her name, move her to another state and make her a barista in a cafeteria in a car factory? Done!”
Um, no. If you have a character driven story….that changes the whole story, does it not?
Point is, you’ve got to be true to yourself. If your story “tanks” so be it. Don’t write for the masses. Don’t jump on the hot new “thing” in whatever genre. You like writing steampunk romance? Do it. You like writing about an overly made up female hairdresser finding love with her shampoo gal? Write it.
Because if you start writing for others, you cease writing for yourself. I bet that’s a quotation, isn’t it? Let me go find it…
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.– Cyril Connolly
Enjoy your writing. Write what YOU like to write. It’s the only way that your authentic voice will shine through.