One of my biggest fears with whatever I wrote used to be my “target audience”. I read a lot of young adult fantasy, but I wasn’t sure if the grammar I used was good enough to be considered “YA” at the time (which wasn’t even a real concern). I used to think I had to write middle grade because, as a bad and inexperienced writer, I couldn’t weave a story complex enough to captivate an older audience more well versed in my genre.
But over the years, I learned that the first person you should write for is you. Don’t worry about your audience. Don’t worry about your voice. Don’t worry about how poorly the words are being translated from brain to page. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t find a level of satisfaction from the writing you produce, then you’re doing something wrong. If you’re anything like me, this is because you’re worrying too much about producing a level of quality you can’t yet attain rather than writing something you want to write.
This is a problem that a lot of aspiring writers encounter: They spend so much time trying to make their writing enjoyable to other people that they end up hating it. Let me tell you, it is really hard to write something if you don’t like it. That’s the primary reason I’m not working on any novels right now: I get bored and stop liking it, so rather than leave something half-finished, I’m writing shorter pieces I know I can enjoy writing.
You see, this doesn’t just apply to genre. Yes, being a fantasy geek makes me want to write fantasy stuff. You should always “write what you love”. But it goes further than that. I don’t write anything until I find a way to get excited about the prospect of writing. This was a foreign concept to me a year ago, and admittedly this isn’t always simple, but if you aren’t itching to sit down and get started, maybe it’s not interesting enough.
The first book I had ever planned for the universe of Nacre Then (whose main character was the seed the entire universe sprouted from) has never gotten past the “basic plot” phase. I’ve written his prequels, and tried my hand at writing a few of the first scenes, but I’ve never even tried to begin the first book in his series because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a way to structure the plot to make it exciting for me as its writer. The book is full of awesome magic, interesting characters, and some amazing plot twists, but to this day I have never figured out how to order them in a way that both makes sense and gets me rearing to go.
So, as simple as that, the most I have to show for this book I’ve been planning for over half a decade is a thrown together, half-finished outline of some major plot points. Am I mad? Not in the slightest. If I’m not excited to write it, maybe it’s just not ready to be written yet.
In the meantime, I’ve managed to stumble across three stories that are each compelling enough for me to want to write them. Will they be interesting reads to anyone else? Who knows? But that doesn’t even matter. If anything, I know they will be better reads than scrambling together that huge book I’ve been planning.
If the author isn’t sold on it, you can bet it’s not going to sell anyone else.