A little while back, I wrote an article about what it really meant to write every day. The answer was that we may not have to put pen to paper every day to write every day. Similarly, the advice “write what you want to read” can be easily misconstrued and over-interpreted.
A quick google search of this title brings up the stories of authors who thought their favorite genre needed some new life. Or maybe they felt as if they could write a better horror book than King. Often, as writers, we see this piece of advice as a way of saying “do better than what you read” or “create a story you, as a hypothetical reader, would want to read”. Right?
I don’t take it that way, at least, not anymore.
I used to think that I needed to write horror or literary fiction because that was what I enjoyed reading and you know, write what you like to read. Then my tastes in literature changed and I started thinking, Okay. If I’m a hypothetical reader, what would I be interested in reading in this climate? What kind of story would interest me?
There are two main things wrong with this approach. One, I am a reader, no hypotheticals. Two, the word “kind of story” eliminates the point. I’ll explain.
What kind of story I want to read is simple: a good one. I was trying to pinpoint what sort of story I should write. Should it be scary? Should there be some greater truths? Should it be perfectly grammatically written and emphasize prose over plot? You see the thought process. I was completely forgetting about the heart of the story. The reason I’m writing is to create stories, no to get the most clicks or sells. I personally don’t care. Well, not entirely at least.
It was when I was writing a little something of a side project that I had a realization.
Throughout the week, I kept thinking of my project as a story I was reading, not writing. That interested me. Then I noticed that as I was writing, I had the experience of a reader. It was as if I was reading my words and not writing them.
All this because I was miffed someone hadn’t written this particular story.
I literally wrote the story I wanted to read.
About a million light bulbs went off in my head. Oh, I should be writing the actual story I’m interested in. It should be an enjoyable process, one that makes me feel like I’m reading the story as it’s coming from my mind. That’s exciting to me.
This is an awfully short little post. I just wanted to reach out to you and see if I could enlighten you in the way I enlightened myself. You can write the story you want to read and have it be just that simple after all.