My daughter spent the afternoon sharing her adventures from a teen camp at a yoga retreat…
…getting bit by a fire ant while shooting a rifle.
…hair caught in a belay while rappelling down a cliff.
…kids bursting out in laughter during silent meditation.
One story struck a note with me since it ties into something I’ve been thinking about lately in my writing – and that’s writing what I want to read, not writing what I think others might want to read.
So the story goes like this.
Crack of dawn. My daughter has a busy day ahead of her – with archery, shooting, and swimming on the schedule – so she throws on her black tights and her black Marin MMA sweatshirt to fend off the cold mountain air and heads out to round up some breakfast.
On her way to the food tent, she notices a person dressed all in white, then another, and another.
She’s starting to wonder what’s going on.
Pretty soon she is surrounded by a sea of people all dressed in white.
Then her friend bursts out laughing and tells my daughter that in this yoga tradition, adherents celebrate the summer solstice by wearing white.
My daughter could have panicked from fear of being different.
She could have run back to the tent and found something white to wear. So she would fit in. But instead, she stood in line, grabbed a couple apples, and some juice and then headed back.
She didn’t let what other people were doing change her.
Her story got me thinking.
One of the recent advice trends being offered by experts in indie publishing is writing to market.
The idea behind this is to research underserved genres with a strong readership and to write books to that market. And the implication is that by following this strategy, you will sell more books. The logic is that demand exceeds supply.
The underlying implication is that if you write to a market you will make more money. Because readers are hungry for these types of stories.
And if you make money writing (regardless of what you are writing about), you will be happy.
The idea sounds great but it raises an important question for me: why I am writing?
Obviously, my dream would be to support myself only by my writing. What writer doesn’t want that?
Do I want to write a story to fit a market or write a story that I want to tell?
If I write in a market (zombies, romance, zombie romance) that I am not interested in, how is that different from writing business marketing copy or grant proposals?
I already do that kind of business writing to pay the bills. And I enjoy it for what it is.
When I write, I have a story to tell, a world to reveal, characters to run through the ringer. It’s a different thing.
To me, writing is freedom. It’s not about the money.
I write to tell the stories I want to tell, not to make money. Yes, I would like to make money writing what I want to write. But that’s different from writing to fit a market.
Advice in the indie writing industry is seductive.
We read blog posts, listen to podcasts, and watch free webinars.
All the advice dangles the dream in front of us – follow this advice, sign up for this course, buy this book, and success will be ours.
But, in the end, you can follow all the advice – buy Facebook ads, write to market, build an email list- and still fail (financially).
And then what do you have? A handful of books you were never passionate about writing? A few dollars in your bank account? An unfulfilled need to tell the stories that were meant to be told?
Better to write the best story that you need to tell and have a few dollars in your bank account. Better to write the stories hidden deep within your soul. Better to live the life you want to.
In the sea of indie publishing conformity, better to follow your heart and write what you want.