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Don’t write the book your friend wants you to write

March 19, 2013

If you’ve been writing for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard something like this a few times in your life from those friends and other well-wishers who only have your best interests at heart: “Hey there Leslie. Why don’t you write a book like that one gal wrote. Remember? She was on CNN the other night being interviewed? That’s all she does anymore is go on talk shows and gab about her book. I guess it’s one of them best-sellers ain’t it? I’ll bet she lives in Malibu huh?”

If you’re like me, you smile and bear it. 

It’s inevitable, as much a part of being a writer as many other things. You’re simply going to have to endure advice from people about what you should write about. And if you’re like a lot of writers not making tons of money from your efforts, the advice will likely come at you all the time.

They wonder why you’re still working that day job, “now that you’re an author.” They get weird smiles on their faces, suggesting that perhaps you should write one of those “steamy sex books.”

“After all, sex sells.”

Oh sure, they have your best interests at heart. But do they realize that to write, you need to feel in your own heart the book you’re writing?

Ah, the book you want to write. It means ignoring what’s popular. Never mind that vampires and Hollywood gossip are making some authors into household names.

“I’m tellin’ ya Leslie. Write one of them hot sex books. Ya hear me? You could base the darn story on some of those goofy people you work with down there at the customer service center. That place is like a soap from what I hear. Of course, you’d change the names in the book.”

You tell your wise friend that writing should be about passion, about what’s in your heart. Of course, that does you no good at all. You get a blank stare, and then perhaps a pat on the shoulder not unlike that given out to small children.

You want to tell this person that we all carry around unique thoughts and ideas in our heads, and we all have some desire to tap into these things that we’ve been carrying around with us for so many years.

Maybe you’ve long been obsessed with a particular subject – say, crippled Vietnam war veterans struggling with Agent Orange issues. Maybe the topic hits close to home, and it’s an issue you’ve long wanted to research a bit and ultimately write about. Well, go for it.

But don’t write a book about something that doesn’t peak your interest in the slightest or one that your friend wants you to do. Otherwise, you’ll be launching a project that will be more of a millstone around your neck than anything else.

As I often say, have fun with your writing. The fun comes from the interest and passion you have for the book. It’s the best way to go.

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3 Comments
  1. Its funny, I had a friend to tell ask me “why don’t you wtite a Romance novel, you know, the one with the hot, steamy sex”! All I could say is, “Its not my thing!”

  2. I think the “put a lot of sex in your next book” is one of the most popular pieces of advice given to writers.

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