Become A Selfish Writer

notepadI’ll keep this short. Often, if you’re a copywriter or something like that, you’ll be producing “content” that you’ve been hired to do. It won’t be something you’d chose on your own. You don’t have the luxury of being picky.

But if you’re writing your first novel, chances are no one has commissioned you to write it. It’ll be something you do on spec, either to self-publish or to send out to literary agents and publishers.

And with that being the case, I can only recommend one thing that might make the task more achievable: Write what you want to read.

That’s it really. Just become a selfish writer. Write the kind of story you would want to flick through in a bookstore. Could you imagine yourself coming across it in a recommendation from Amazon? What would the back blurb say? Would you be interested? Even if you’d never bought anything from the author before?

It’s an imprecise measurement for sure, but it’s probably the nearest thing we have when we’re starting out on a writing project to an “acid test” for our work. If you can genuinely imagine yourself being interested in your work, then you’ve got a much better chance of it resonating with others too. We’re all different in our tastes, but not so different that we’d hate every single thing that other people like. If you like it, chances are other people will do. It might be a few dozen people, several thousand people, or even millions. That part is down to the luck of the draw.

But if you can write something you really care about, something that selfishly you’d love to read yourself, then it will have a vibrancy and authenticity to it. It’ll be credible. Your enthusiasm and care will burn onto the page, you won’t be able to help it.

In short, writing what you want to read is the best way to guarantee your work will be the best version of itself.

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