WHAT SHOULD YOU BE WRITING? BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

This is a question that keeps popping up a lot. What should I be writing? It’s a question that leaves most writers unsure of what they should be following. When a certain genre becomes a hit, some writers will get their fingers on their key boards fast to try and produce the next hit in that genre, the problem with that kind of strategy is that, by the time you are done researching and writing that story, the mood of the industry will have shifted to another genre, so trying to write this way is like chasing after the wind. Good luck with that!

The strategy that has withstood the test of time for most writers is writing what makes you feel. Let’s dive deeper, with what we should be writing.

  1. Themes that tug at you: You should be writing things that move you emotionally, what are the issues that get you mad about society? About humanity? Does Injustice make your blood boil? Is it racism and tribalism? Whatever gets you feeling strongly, then write about that. The beauty of being led by something you feel strongly about, is that even when the going gets tough with the writing, the theme will continue to tug at you and carry you through the process. If you simply write because this is what is ‘currently hot’ then chances are you might not see your project to the end.
  2. In genres that you know: I think whoever said ‘write what you know’ was referring to genre, I don’t watch of read horrors, so I wouldn’t just wake up one day and attempt to write a horror because I have no idea what to avoid, what works, I have a whole lot of ideas on what doesn’t work in horrors lol after attempting to watch several. But I haven’t studied the genre enough to attempt to write in it, it also doesn’t fascinate me. How do we get ‘to know’ a genre? By first loving the genre, watching and reading a lot of it and studying and analyzing it. The reason we’re advised as writers to write in a genre that we know is simply to be able to give the audience/reader a satisfying story. Imagine going to watch a movie that has labelled itself a comedy, and you sit down ready to laugh and instead of laughing you end up reflecting on life and feeling miserable about stuff, that is not a satisfying story as per your expectation as the audience. So please deliver on your promises to your readers. Even when you combine genres, there’s a particular genre that will be leading the way, so make sure we get more of that! It’s all about audience/reader expectations.
  3. Why are you writing in the first place? Every time I start on a project, I make sure to ask myself this question. It helps me stay focused. I ask myself why am I writing this story? Is it for critical acclaim, is it because I have a burning message to pass across?  Answering this question helps me look myself in the mirror and helps me know how to proceed. Why are you working on the particular piece you’re working on? Let that determine what you should be writing.

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint, and when you’re doing your marathon, you might stop along the way to tie a shoe lace, to drink some water, you might slow down your pace to stay sane, you might not enjoy it all the time, but when you’re done with that particular project, you will pat yourself on the back, look back and beam proudly because whether or not the entire world celebrates with you, you told the story that you needed to tell, so good job! Move on to the next!

Happy writing!

PS: I have free guides on the craft of writing for my email list plus a whole guide on nailing the writing process. Subscribe to my email list for free at the bottom of my website or through the sign up button on my FB page- Damaris Irungu O – Writer’s page

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