Don’t Just Write What You Know, Write What You Care About
This is one of my favourite bits of writing advice, and as soon as I read those simple words in Donald Maass’ book, ‘Writing the Breakout Novel’, I grabbed my trusty pink highlighter and slid it across the page. Mostly because I liked the advice, and partly because I love highlighting things! (I love the smooth feel as they glide along the page, and the colours you can get these days are gorgeous! But I’ll save that discussion for some other self-indulgent blog post, perhaps about stationary addiction).
It is SO important to write what you care about, because as Donald says, ‘If you don’t care, why should anyone else?’
Don’t write something just because you think it’s popular, or there’s a gap in the market. You have to like and care about what you’re writing in order to enjoy it and do it for the long haul.
This advice got me thinking about what I care about, and why I have written about certain topics. In my novel, The Life Makeover Club, I’ve written about women getting a chance to create the life they always wanted. I care about people being able to enjoy their lives and do the things they’re passionate about, rather than feeling like they’re stuck in a rut, or trapped in a life that isn’t what they want. Too many people settle for second best, or say ‘this is just my lot in life’, without thinking or taking action towards making their life better. Sure, there are some things that can’t be changed, but a lot can be, and probably one of the most important things you can change is your attitude.
My novel also explores motherhood, and how to be a good mother while still keeping your own identity – something I know many mothers struggle with. I’ve also highlighted (there I go again!) the humourous side to motherhood, as daily parenting can bring with it both challenging and funny moments, and sometimes you just have to laugh!
Another thing I care about creating awareness of is the often silent ‘emotional abuse’ in some relationships. Domestic violence gets a lot of press, and rightly so, but those suffering in an emotionally abusive relationship often suffer in silence because it is not seen, and the affected partner can feel like they are making a big deal out of nothing, or that maybe they are just too sensitive. I wanted to show a character going through this and finding the strength to come through it; to say ‘I don’t have to put up with this.’
Other themes, issues, and topics I care about, and are writing or plan to write about in future are:
– reconnecting with family
– personal empowerment
– trusting your intuition
– the reality of autism and the gifts it can provide
– the importance of being proactive with your health
– remembering and celebrating life’s little pleasures
– the need for a ‘place to call home’
– the valued role of grandparents
– thinking outside the box – ‘What if?’
– accepting people as individuals
– the valuable role of ‘the arts’ in our lives
– second chances, persistence, never giving up
What about you?
What do you care about?
What are you inspired to write or read about?
Posted on June 19, 2011, in Life, Writing and tagged craft, ideas, inspiration, the life makeover club, themes, topics, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.
I have to agree. As you know, JM, I too love writing about embracing life, love and second chances in my small town, big hearts novels. I so believe in second chances – giving them generously and grabbing them for myself as well. The trouble I have, is writing about these life-changing things without sounding preachy. You know?
Yes, and I can’t wait to read your books Jenn! I know what you mean, when writing The Life Makeover club, I had to try and not overdo the ‘words of wisdom’ given by the club’s leader, so I put a more ‘practical’ spin on the advice. But in the end, I love a book that leaves me inspired! (but you’ve still gotta have conflict!) 🙂
Great post! And great piece of advice 🙂
Great posts and you are going to be one VERY busy writer!
I seem to always write about people in careers they absolutely love but are not all that usual. I also have a tendency for people embracing creative pursuits and love lost being reunited. Of course I can’t put it all as eloquently as you did 🙂
Busy – yes I am! I like characters with unique careers, I find the workplace/careersare a great basis for adding depth to a story and the potential for lots of conflict! Creativity – that’s also something I care about. I think we are all creative in one way or another, and it’s about discovering how we can express that as an individual.
I so agree. I can’t imagine how you could go through all those rewrites and edits and stay interested if you weren’t writing about something you care about. My passion is empowering people through them learning to find the inner power of their minds.
Definitely. And I love your passion, I love anything to do with harnessing our inner power.
What page was that quote on in the book?
Page 3 of the Foreword 🙂
I just stumbled upon this as a pending comment thingy in my WP dashboard thingy and smiled when I saw the posting date. Anyway, always fun looking back over how we were once and how things change, especially if you keep holding onto the dream and work bloody hard!
Wow, 2 years ago Jenn! It is fun to look back. I must take a look at some of my ‘vintage’ posts 😉