Why Won’t You Just Write What You Want to Write?

Don’t let this stop you.

It’s too overdone.

It’s not original enough.

Other people won’t think it’s interesting.

It won’t go viral.

It’s too weird.

I’ll never be able to sell it.

These are the things you tell yourself when you’re considering giving up on an idea you once thought was great.

Your brain comes up with every possible reason why you shouldn’t go forward with something, why you shouldn’t follow through.

Do you want to know what I think?

I think you should just write what you want to write.

Is that easier said than done? Yeah, most of the time. But that does not mean it is impossible.

You cannot go through life doing only the things you think other people will approve of or appreciate or praise you for. You cannot neglect your own needs and desires for the sake of making other people happy — especially when it comes to creativity.

Because a writer — we’ll use writers as an example, but this applies to all creatives — often cannot subdue their urge to make things. It is not something they can say yes or no to without consequence. Idea generation is not a switch they can turn willingly on or off.

When an idea comes to you, you notice it. You call to it. Sometimes, you even touch it with your own two hands.

And yes. Some of us turn away from those ideas when they are still young. We refuse them. We say, “No, there’s something better.” “No, this isn’t the right one.” “No, this one isn’t for me.”

In some situations, these statements may be true. But how can you know of their truth without bothering to give them a chance before you decide their fate?

I once stopped working on a book because the story was based on something that happened in my very small town. I got it into my head that finishing a personal draft of this book — one I may never share with anyone at its completion, mind you — would somehow hurt my neighbors and friends, or cause them to judge or criticize me.

It took me years — YEARS! — to realize that their potential reactions to a story they would probably never read had nothing to do with whether or not I continued writing or finished that book. I wanted to write it. I needed to write it to help me heal. And I did. And it did. And I still don’t regret that.

Stop worrying about what other people may or may not think.

Write the story. The blog post. The poem or screenplay or haiku. For no reason other than you have an idea, you want to turn it into something, and you’re entitled to do that.

We all have to face the consequences of the things we do publish, of course. You can’t just say whatever you want and expect no backlash if it’s the wrong kind of extreme. But that’s not really what I’m getting at here.

Follow your ideas. Give them some time. Not all of them will turn out to be great or transform into masterpieces. But of all the barriers you will face along the way, don’t let someone else be one of them. They may like it or hate it, tear it down or praise it. Does it matter? You should be able to be proud that you did a thing, that something called to you and you answered.

Write it. Whatever it is. Even if it never meets another soul. Just let it unfold.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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