Write What You Love...

One of the most cliched bits of advice given to young writers is to "write what you know." As a teenager I always laughed at that, because my favorite books involved dragons and robots and spaceships. Not exactly something your standard life experience prepares you to write about. Obviously, I was taking the advice a bit too literally—as writers, even speculative fiction writers, we're constantly writing what we know anyway. The decisions our characters make are reflections on the decisions we make in our lives. The traumas and battles are echoes of the fears we ourselves have. In many ways, I think we can't help but write what we know. What we know informs everything.

So that's not really what I'm here to talk about. Instead, I'd like to champion the idea of writing what you love.

Yesterday I went to see Pacific Rim, a movie which I've been looking forward to for years, ever since I found out that Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) was doing a mecha/monster movie. For those of you who haven't been devouring every single interview and tidbit about the movie, it's basically a giant love letter to the kaiju genre (think Godzilla) of Japanese film, which he loved as a child.

And even though I was never into kaiju movies myself, it was probably the most thoroughly enjoyable movie I've seen in a long time. Every moment of it oozed love for the genre. I think I spent the entire movie with this big, ridiculous grin on my face because you could feel how much fun del Toro had making it. It got me thinking about how much better art is when we give in to doing what we love, writing what we really want to write about. And why on earth we'd waste any time doing anything else.

I've heard the same thing from so many aspiring writers (myself included): "What I'd really love to do is X, but..." There's always a reason not to. "I'm not good enough yet" was always my reason for not attempting to write what I really loved. But I've also heard "but there's no market for X right now" and "I don't know if anyone would want to read that."

There are always plenty of reasons not to try it. But the thing is, if you love it, that'll come through in your writing. It always does. Inevitably, readers' favorite parts of books are the parts I most enjoyed writing. When it's a labor of love, the rest falls into place.


Melody Simpson said...

This is just what I needed to be reminded of today. Thanks for this post!

Also, on the last 50 pages of These Broken Stars and loving it!

Melody said...

Great advice. It's my opinion that a reader can only love your book as much as you do. So write what you really, really, really love. :)

YA Guy said...

Great post. You just have to have faith as an author that if you love something, someone else will too!

Justine said...

What a beautiful post! :)
The part about our stories being a reflection of ourselves is very true, and what you said about writing what we love is the best advice you could give to someone.

I'm seeing Pacific Rim tomorrow, and, being an enormous fan of Pan's Labyrinth and del Toro's other works, I was worried I wouldn't like. I'm not into mecha or kaiju. But I'm very happy to see that you liked it, and am more hopeful now. :)