Write What You Want

I was able to write a lot of words while sitting on the covered porch.

Hi, SE Readers. In the course of your writing journey, many of you have probably had someone say to you, “Write what you know.” You may have heard, “Write what you don’t know.” The latter designed to encourage writers to conduct research and broaden their knowledge.

But have you ever had someone say, “You can reach more people writing magazine articles than you can with full-length books.” Or, “I can see you writing _______.”

In either case, you know neither of those ideas appeals to you. But if you are in the early stages of your writing career, you may be eager to become a published author, and you give in. You listen to the words of others, especially seasoned authors because you believe they know more than you.

You’re writing, but you’re not happy. You force the words to come, but the finished draft sounds awkward or disjointed.

Today, I’m going to talk about writing what you want to write and give an example from my own writing journey.

Last month, my husband and I spent a few days in a rented cabin near Broken Bow, Oklahoma. We had a wonderful time—relaxing, visiting a nearby lake, and spending time in a hot tub. Broken Bow is a relatively short drive from our home. It’s a beautiful place for a quick getaway, so we’ve visited there several times.

Of course, my laptop made the journey with me. Yes, I know I was supposed to be on vacation, but I was on a roll with my WIP and didn’t want to lose the momentum. Our cabin had a covered patio, and I would go outside in the early mornings, sit at the table, and write. I’m pleased to report I made progress and was able to get a couple of chapters written in the short time we were there.

Place of my 2010 writing retreat. I took lots of photos but wrote very few words.

It also brought to mind another trip to Broken Bow several years ago when I, along with three other friends, rented a cabin for a couple of days. Our purpose? A writer’s retreat.

What could be better? A log house in the middle of the woods surrounded by nature. I was confident that I would come home with lots of inspiration and having written lots of words.

When we arrived, we all scoped out our space. With three bedrooms and a loft, we all had plenty of room and wouldn’t disturb one another. Two friends were working on a collaborative project, and the third friend had a series of short stories to write. It didn’t take long for them to settle in and fingers began pecking away on keyboards.

Back then, I was writing mostly short, inspirational pieces and toying with an idea for a non-fiction book written from the perspective of a cancer survivors spouse. I knew what it was like to stand by a husband while he was going through chemo treatments. I knew about making it on a limited income while he was on short-term disability. I knew that along with the cancer treatment, doctor’s appointments, and hospital stays life goes on. And Murphy often shows up. “If something can go wrong, it will.”

Surely there are young wives out there who are going through (or will go through) something similar. Maybe my story can help them get through a difficult time.

I opened my laptop. Nada. Nothing. No inspiration.

Okay, I need some time to relax. The day job has been stressful, and once I clear my mind, the words will come.

Day two arrived. Still no words. Not even a blog post. So, I turned to my other passion—photography. I took walks around the cabin. Snapped a few photos. Nature walks almost always inspire me. They didn’t.

By day three, I was almost ready to give up on writing. But somehow, I knew that good would come from the long weekend, so I pressed on. It took a while, but I finally realized the problem.

I wasn’t writing fiction. At the age of ten, when I first knew I wanted to be a writer, I never considered anything other than fiction. Unconsciously, I allowed the voices of others to dictate the direction of my writing.

It took me a while, but when I transitioned from non-fiction to fiction, story ideas and words began to flow. I found excitement in writing. No longer did it feel like drudgery.

If you’re new to writing, listen to your inner voice. Chances are, you already know what you want to write. If it’s non-fiction, that’s okay. If it’s fiction, pick your genre. Whether it’s mystery, suspense, romance, fantasy, or sci-fi, go for it.

Your dreams can come true.

37 thoughts on “Write What You Want

  1. Pingback: Dog Days of Summer and The Week in Review – Joan Hall

  2. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  3. I agree, and I’d take it one step farther. Write what you want that DAY. Or that hour. Or that minute. I can’t seem to force a single thing out of my head or onto the paper, unless it’s what’s clamoring to be told. And I don’t worry about it anymore. I just tell the story that wants to get out, and hope for the best. 😀 Great post, Joan! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good idea, Marcia. Even when I’m working on a novel, there are days that the words just don’t come. Sometimes, I’ll use that time to catch up on blog posts. Other times I might just free write.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed this post, Joan. I’ve often heard the line, “pick a lane and stick with it.” As a new writer, I tried to follow this mantra. I love reading romantic suspense, so that MUST be my genre, right? Wrong. I’ve since learned to go with the flow. If suspense is in my head I write until something else pops in there, whether it’s contemporary, mystery, or even paranormal. Stifling your flow is the worst thing you can do for creativity. The joy of writing is in the journey, enjoy the trip!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This was a wonderful post, Joan. I am so sorry you and your husband went through so much in the past, and I can see why at first, you might have been moved to tell your story. Clearly, the writer in you had different ideas. 🙂

    I’ve written in different genres over the years and there were times my heart wasn’t in it. The passion was missing. It was only after finally settling into the mystery/suspense genre that I made peace with what I want to write. I still like to experiment and might venture off the familiar path now and again, but it’s because I choose to, not because I’m directed to. Choice makes all the difference for writers. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • It was a tough time, Mae but it made our marriage stronger. And who knows, someday I might share our story. I’m like you I love mystery/suspense but I don’t mind exploring new paths. I think for me as long as I’m writing fiction, I’m happy.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been writing professionally since I was still in college. There are times the paycheck job was tedious, where every word was a challenge. There’s a reason “find your bliss” became a saying. You’ll never be happy if you aren’t doing what you love, and if you aren’t doing what you love, it will show. It might be the time it takes to write, it might be the words you choose—doesn’t matter. The problem will manifest. I’m so glad you finally found your “bliss” and are making progress on your THIRD novel.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post and I agree with writing what you want. Being into your topic brings it to another level instead of going through the writing motions. It is strange that people are so quick to suggest other genres and routes for authors. I seem to attract the suggestion to write science-fiction or jump on the latest fad. Why do people think it’s a good idea to tell others to copy what already exists?

    Liked by 3 people

    • The fact that people are so quick to suggest things amazes me. Some people may be trying to live their dream through us. I had a woman tell me one time she could see me writing children’s books. No way!


      • I’ve wondered about the living vicariously through authors too. The children’s books has been suggested to me too. The strangest one is always: “You should write erotica because it sells well. Make a bunch of them and use the money to fund your other books.” It’s like they don’t see how this could build the wrong reputation for me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • People never cease to amaze me with their free advice. Writing erotica isn’t something I would want to do. But if I did, I’d have to use a pseudonym.


    • I absolutely agree, Gwen. Wish I had listened to mine long before I did. But those years weren’t wasted. I spent that time learning more about the craft of writing. (Still learning, but that’s never-ending.) Thanks so much for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Joan. The other thing I’ve found is that you need confidence, and that ‘s part of what’s missing when you’re trying to force yourself into writing something you don’t want to write and are not comfortable with. The two words I love in this respect are ‘patient perseverance’ … the important thing being that we don’t give up. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. As Yoda once said, ‘There is no try…’ and this is true. We think we are trying, but are we fooling ourselves?
    If you are a writer, the words will wriggle out of you no matter what you intend. The one skill you need is patience, although a half decent muse helps too!

    Liked by 3 people

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