You might have heard this one: “Don't write unless you have something to say!” This advice comes up often, so I'd like to address it.
Is it true? Should you only write if you have something profound to say, an enlightening message that hasn't been heard before?
My opinion: You should absolutely write if you want to, no matter whether you have a profound message or not, and even if you think your underlying plot has been seen countless times. And here is why:
Fiction books, especially commercial fiction, are entertainment. They might be profound, deep and teach you something new. However, and that is the point, they don't have to do that to be loved.
It is perfectly fine to be entertaining without a deep message. Passion is still important, but sometimes we can be passionate about silly things!
Originality helps, but you don't need to rely on it: There are fiction books with genuinely unusual premises, stories with a never heard before hook. But many popular books or movies use the most overused settings and tropes, and millions love them anyway. And why?
It's simple: Wonderful execution of an unoriginal idea can be much more compelling than bad execution of an “original” idea. Not that original ideas and twists hurt, but readers may enjoy a rehashed idea more than you think.
You want to sit down and find an idea for a deep underlying message before you start your book? Well, some of us writers just don't work that way:
If you are a discovery writer, your creative process may consist of piling up crap until you reach novel length, revising it, and hoping you end up with something good. That doesn't mean the result can't be profound. But if you are that sort of writer and you wait for a profound idea before you start writing, then you will never write anything.
You may not even think what you write has a deep message, but many people might still see one. Of course it is fine to intentionally teach your readers something, but people may find meaning in things that weren't meant to be inherently meaningful.
However, what still matters, especially for fiction books, is that you have some sort of passion. Either you love the writing process, or you deeply care about the message your book is about. There needs to be something about the process you're passionate about.
If you write just for monetary gain or because you think that makes you one of those cool authors, it will be challenging to write something that people love. People can usually tell if you care. And always strive to get better, that is the path to excellence!
Thanks for reading the article. Find more advice on writing here. And remember, always keep writing to get better!
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