Do you like to write? Well, do you? Now I’ll ask you a question with a less obvious answer: do you like WHAT you write?
I used to write Christian novels. I like reading them and there are authors out there who write them well, but I’m not one of them. And it’s not because Jesus and I have issues (we’re all good), it’s because it never clicked with me. I believe what I believe and it’s a staple in my life, but at some point in high school I realized I didn’t want to write for that audience 24/7.
The problem wasn’t the messages I wanted to convey or the lifestyles of the characters I wrote about. It was the fact that, simply, I didn’t like writing in that genre. And I realized that writing in a genre other than Christian fiction didn’t change my religion or the way I lived my own life. I wanted to write about different characters with different lifestyles, a different style. And once I started doing that, I started liking the end products of long hours spent typing away at my computer.
Now confidence – that’s a different story. And if you’re in the middle of writing a book and are high on caffeine and low on confidence, you’ve stumbled upon the appropriate collection of tips.
Write about things you’re interested in. You don’t have to be an expert about soccer to write about the World Cup – I write about health and fitness almost daily and I don’t even have my degree yet. No, you can’t claim you’re an expert on something when you’re not, but you’re not banned from writing about what you’re interested in just because you didn’t study it in school. The more you like something, the more you’ll watch, practice or research/read about it – the more you’ll know, and the more material you’ll have to go off of when you sit down and open your go-to word processor. Don’t write about the World Cup if you have no interest in it whatsoever, just because ‘everybody else is doing it.’ Stick to what you know – your love for the topic of choice will show through the words you use to write about it.
Don’t underestimate your ability to tell an amazing story. You’ve gone places throughout your lifetime and interacted with people whether you wanted to or not (I’m talking to you, fellow introverts). Even if you’ve never gone past your hometown’s official boundaries, you’ve encountered thousands if not millions of writing prompts just by walking down your front steps on your way to school every day when you were younger. If you’re afraid your ideas ‘have all been done before,’ snuff out that fear and make them come to life anyway. How many Disney classics were based on previously-written tales? A LOT. And all who grew up watching them don’t care if they’re technically fairly unoriginal. The more you practice writing, the better you’ll get at putting your own original spin on an age-old tale. You are a WRITER! Sit yourself down and crank out those stories you’ve kept floating around in your head your entire life. You won’t regret it.
Share your work. But Meg, I don’t like bragging about my writing. TOO BAD! Don’t even think of it as ‘bragging.’ If writers never promoted their own work to start out, no one would ever discover it. How do you think authors snag publishing contracts? By marketing their best work and being proud of it. Yes, be PROUD of it! You sat down and wrote a book/article/news brief/screenplay/haiku/instruction manual! WOOHOO! You accomplished something and you deserve a self-pat on the back! Now go email it to all your friends. If they don’t like it, there’s something wrong with them. Or, if you want to go the more logical route, they’re just not interested in the topic, genre or form of writing. Send it to 10 people and at least half of them will probably tell you you’re awesome and beg you for more reading material.
Do you like what you write? Maybe not. And all of us have pieces we wish we’d never written. But those are easy to save onto our hard drives and forget about, to leave more room in your brain for new ideas. Take your writing into your own hands (literally, as always) and love it. Love it as much as you love Disney movies and, okay, international soccer extravaganzas.