Today’s tip of the day comes from Setting and Keeping Goals, a chapter in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. Here she discusses how to write the book you were meant to write.
If you are aware ahead of time that you may be working on a story that is not in line with who you are as a writer—say, if you’ve been contracted to write in a genre you’re unfamiliar with—then you can compensate for it not only by giving yourself more time to complete the story, but also by recognizing blocks and resistance as they come up. That way, you will understand why you feel blocked, and you can then either write the story anyway or give yourself permission to shape your storyline so it fits better with who you are as a writer. It’s called slanting your project, tweaking it a bit to get more of “you” into it. Many writers who work for hire do this. They will take any writing job they are offered, but they immediately pick through the idea and inject their own ideas and themes into it. This is what makes us unique, what adds style to our work. Knowing what projects not to become involved in, as well as what projects to pursue, is the biggest key to a fabulous writing career.
Do you think Nora Roberts and Barbara Cartland would have been so prolific if they wrote in a vastly different genre and topic area? Most likely, they would have slanted any book they wrote into the mold of who they were as writers. This is why you can take any story idea, give it to ten different writers, and get back ten different versions of it! Who you are as a writer will always come through your work. Accept and embrace that.
Now that you know who you are as a writer and what is important to you, take that information and turn it into an overall career goal in first or third person. For example:
- I want to write X stories with Y and Z. (I want write sensual stories with suspense and intrigue.)
- X and Y are what writer Z is all about. (Spunky heroines and slapstick comedy are what writer Jack Doe is all about.)
Does any of this sound familiar? It should! You have all been told that you need to boil your ideas down into a one-sentence pitch. Well, this is the one-sentence pitch of yourself. It is just as important to pitch
yourself as it is to pitch your story. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. Pitching yourself tells people about your career; pitching your book just tells them about that one book.
Now you try writing a one sentence pitch.
If Jack Doe is hired to write a horror novel, he can create a spunky heroine with one or two slapstick moments and make the story his own. He won’t struggle as much in the beginning to write this horror book because he knows what he likes to write about. He knows what will make this an enjoyable experience for him. Can you imagine how he might struggle if he couldn’t put his finger on what he didn’t like about this horror project? Instead, he can jump right in with suggestions and ideas for the publisher. (Remember, this statement about who you are as a writer may change over time. That’s okay.)