Over the past month, an author friend and I have been exchanging music videos on You Tube that inspire us while we’re writing our books. She knows quite a few independent musicians that I had no idea were out there, and I really enjoyed getting exposed to a variety of new music. For An Earl In Time, I found one particular group she found to be instrumental in setting the mood that I needed in order to finish the book. I’m suspect a lot of writers out there use music to get them into the world they are writing
In this case, this is the only music group that could deliver on exactly what I was looking for. Their stuff is different. It’s not stuff you’ll find on the radio. Other music groups come close, but they just can’t quite make the mark. This group writes their own music and lyrics. They create their own videos. They upload their songs across multiple platforms for sale. This is an indie music group. No one can duplicate what they are doing. They have a style and sound that is uniquely theirs. In other words, this group is irreplaceable to me.
And this brings me to this subject of this post.
The benefit of a creative endeavor is that it’s fully dependent on the person who is creating it. You can decide what kind of product you will produce.
Anyone can tell a story that hits main plot points. Anyone can target popular tropes and trends. Anyone can follow the “formula” of storytelling. You can plug in all of the structural components and have a commercially viable story. That’s what a lot of writers who are writing for money do. They just put things into the “formula” and produce a story. These books are a dime a dozen. They’re all over the place. I’ve read some of them, and they sound the same. It’s obvious to me that their books meant nothing to them on a personal level when they wrote them. I understand that these can make good money, but that’s largely because of the subscription model.
The reason subscription services do so well is because the content is consumed and tossed out. Subscribers aren’t keeping your books. But I get it. The reason why these writers write books is for money. They aren’t interested in being on someone’s shelf for a lifetime. They don’t care if someone reads their books over and over, nor are they interested in writing something that will touch someone on a deep emotional level. This is all for the here and now. We’re in an instant gratification world. We want our reward, and we want it right now. Hence their mindset and why they write what they do.
If you are irreplaceable (meaning your stories are distinctly you), you will create books that people will want to keep. You know what I did with that group I found on You Tube? I went to iTunes and bought their songs. I burned their music on a CD. That way I get to keep those songs forever. The reason I did that is because they have impacted me on an emotional level. Books can have the same impact.
To create anything of lasting worth, a writer needs passion. The best books take readers on an adventure they’ll want to read more than once. Exceptional books have layers that will allow readers to pick out new things when they read a second or even a third time. Writing at the deeper level is art in its purest form, and art requires emotional commitment to the story one is writing.
The greatest contribution writers can bring to the story is the writer themselves. No one else can tell the story the way the writer will if that writer is fully invested in the story. Don’t be afraid to merge in aspects of your past, your personality, and your values to the stories you write. The mix of these three elements is what makes the things you produce different from what others are doing. It’s also going to ensure you’re passionate about what you’re doing. You can fake many things, but passion isn’t one of them. The stuff you’re fired up about is going to bleed off the page.
Writers who are passionate about their work might not write books that are the biggest sellers, but these are books that resonate most with the readers who enjoy them. These books will have their critics. Every creative venture ends up with critics. That’s the nature of writing. You simply can’t please everyone because, eventually, you’ll come across someone who has a completely different set of likes and dislikes than you do. This is why you can’t take criticism personally. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s true. Take a look at the 1 and 2-star reviews on your favorite books. Music and movies get their share of criticism, too. Criticism is all over the place. And it only seems to be getting worse in an era of social media where people feel at liberty to tear others down. If you reach enough readers, you will get some hate.
But does receiving criticism mean you should give up writing what you’re passionate about? Of course not. I guarantee you that there will be people who will absolutely adore your work and will want more of it. There is a reason you attract certain people but not others. The people who enjoy your books are the ones you should focus on. Forget the haters. They don’t count. Only you can write your books with the enthusiasm necessary for you to connect with your readers. No other author will be able to do that. That’s because there can only be one you. Just like a fingerprint and DNA, you can’t be replaced. You can’t be duplicated.
Embracing that aspect of yourself can be very freeing when it comes to getting maximum enjoyment from your writing. It’ll also free you up to write the books that will have the greatest impact on those who love them. Books have the opportunity to touch someone’s life in a meaningful way. Think of it. You have the power to give something lasting to another person in a way no other author can. You have no idea who that person is or how many are out there. All you can do is write the story. The rest is up to God.
I don’t believe in coincidences. We live in an age where we have the means to write and publish our own books without the permission of a publisher. There’s a reason for this. We have an opportunity. Let’s not waste it. Give everything you are to your stories. When the day comes when you’re no longer here, who knows if your books will continue to find new readers? Granted, a lot of books will fall into oblivion, but you might write a book that will be passed down from one generation to another. I doubt authors like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, or Edgar Allen Poe thought we’d still have their books around today. Maybe a century from now, your name will be along with theirs.
So give this your all. Be irreplaceable. Be you. And most of all, have fun while you’re doing it. 😀