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Writing Wednesday: Writing for Yourself by Misha Gericke

Misha Gericke has been a blog-friend for a while now, an assiduous writer and a loyal commenter! When we decided she would do a guest-post for Amlokiblogs, she had a brainwave about the topic: Write for Yourself. I loved it—I write for myself first and anyone else later, and I was happy to host an article that re-affirmed my belief!

So take it away Misha!

Writing for Yourself

Hi all! I just want to thank Damyanti for having me at her lovely blog. Hopefully you’ll enjoy what I have to say.
My best friend recently caught the writing bug from me. You know the one. Not the one where you think it’s fun to write.
The one where you really want to finish a story.
That sickness starts a completely different sort of torture. Because not only do you have to write stories and characters, but you have to commit to them. For months. Weeks. Years.
As long as it takes to write The End.
Let me tell you one thing. NOTHING prepares you for writing a novel. Even if you’ve written short stories and poetry. That jump from 5-10k to 60-100k words is a massive one. Even if you churn out 60-100k worth of word in short stories. Because you have to stick to ONE story. ONE set of characters.
And that is why writing for yourself is vital.
I have heard of writers who insist that keeping an eye on what sells is the secret to getting agents and publishers.
That’s all good and well, but actually having a finished book to sell is more important. And writing what sells might mean that you’re not necessarily writing what you love.
Trust me on this. That. Sucks. Epically.
And it pretty much dooms you to fail before you even start. That 60-100k commitment means that if you want at least a small chance at finishing a book; write something that you’d enjoy reading. With characters that intrigue you.
At least for the beginning, you must be at a stage where you can’t wait to get to your story.
Find what makes you comfortable. Find what makes you excited to write.
Because that’s what will carry you through the hard times later on. Because when those times come where you’ll think about giving up, you’ll want to love your characters enough to not give up on them. You’ll cling on to the story until the storm passes and you find your love again.
So don’t hurt your writing from the beginning by chasing fashions. Go for what you love.
Have you ever tried to write a novel with an idea that didn’t really make your heart beat faster? What happened to the idea? Any new writers out there, still working on your Shiny New Idea?

Misha is a writer with aspirations to be published one day. She is currently revising her complete novel, a YA epic fantasy named Doorways with the hope of completing edits by December. To see how she’s doing, check out her blog at Twitter: @MishaMFB

This coming Friday, stop by to meet author S.B. Stewart-Laing, and ask her questions about her book, Forgotten Gods.

Misha is a participant in the Rule of Three Blogfest, a month-long shared-world fiction extravaganza starting 5th October— with some great prizes, and of course, a lot of exposure and constructive feedback for your writing. This is one Blogfest fiction authors ought not to miss. Go ahead and join Misha

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • No wiser words.

    I was reading a blog post recently from someone else who said she'd hit a wall. Not that she couldn't write, but rather what she wrote gave her no joy.

    When that happens it's time to switch gears.

  • Misha says:

    Cortney I find that too. I have to at least be interested in what I'm writing.

  • Cortney says:

    I find that when I force myself to write for any reason other than I really want to do it for ME, it doesn't flow as well. It's when I'm in the moment and loving it that my writing is the best. Thanks for the post! And I wanted to add, I love the comparison of your writing to the amloki (sp). I've never heard of that particular type of fruit before, but it's a great comparison!

  • Misha says:

    So true Eric. I didn't want to mention it because I thought it would scare new writers, but I draft for myself and revise/edit for the market.

    And yes, I've read through my WiP four times already and there's only one rewrite and one round of revisions done… 🙂

  • Misha says:

    Thanks Amy!

    Laura I can agree. Especially when it's big name writers who have to write because of their contracts. I suspect that most new writers who don't write from the heart end up without deals, because agents can pick up on it too…

  • I always say this: Write first for yourself. Write again for others.

    That again part is revision.

    You mention you should enjoy reading your own work. Lord, that is key to success. Remember that for every book you write, you will read it front-to-back, very carefully, about ten times before it hits the shelf. I have a couple on my shelf I never want to see again and I'll let them die with me.

    So if you don't enjoy that read, you'll never get finished!

    – Eric

  • "Find what makes you comfortable. Find what makes you excited to write." Well said, Misha!

    I always maintain that readers can tell when an author's heart wasn't in it, that she or he wrote the book just because it was trendy. Those are the trendy novels that don't make it to the top. You're so right that you must love what you're writing. Not only will you be able to stick it through allll the revisions, but your readers will appreciate it too!

  • Amy says:

    Wonderful post Misha! 🙂

  • Misha says:

    Giles, I think that unless you have a super-fast writing ability, writing for the current market just isn't possible. Because by the time you're done with your shiny vampire book (for example) everyone else will be sick of it. Of course, if you wrote it because you loved your story idea, then it was worth it even if it doesn't get published. But, that doesn't mean that you can't rewrite, revise or edit with the market firmly in mind… I just wouldn't draft like that.

    Hi Jen! So true, we technically have to live the ideas we write. I know from personal experience that it's never far, no matter what I do. Why put up with something you don't care for?

    Aw thanks Anthony!

    Marlena so true. I think there are few books that don't have value for at least one person. But as much as I enjoy the thought of publishing, I enjoy writing for the hell of it more… ^_^

    Knight, I know what you mean, forcing yourself to do things that you don't enjoy is a tremendous drain on creativity. But, if channeled right, it can also trigger it, as your starved muse grabs for anything possible to do…

    Thanks for having me, Damyanti!

    Shack, just remember that that loss of ambition can happen any time. During the past four years when I was drafting Doorways, I almost quit writing altogether towards the end of the rewrite, because the flame just went out. Fortunately I kept plugging away until something sparked me again.

    J.C. I agree. Every block buster book has a slew of sheep trying to emulate it. I like creating my own trends. 😉

  • J.C. Martin says:

    Thanks, Damyanti, for featuring Misha! Great post! So true that you should write what REALLY gets you going, and to not just hop on the latest trend wagon. Remember all those lacklustre conspiracy-theory thrillers that came churning out in the wake of THE DA VINCI CODE? Me neither, and for good reason. (THE MICHALENGELO MYSTERY or THE RAPHAEL RIDDLE, anyone?)

    I've just finished my Shiny New Idea. It just so happens to be pretty topical too, so we shall see if the last 18 months has been worth it…

  • I understood this fact halfway through my first WIP where there was more ambition than anything else. It was disheartening at first to let it slip away, but I knew it was for the best.
    Now, two years after that traumatic state I'm a happy writer now,moving forward everyday.

  • Damyanti says:

    Thanks Misha, for the post, and everyone else for coming to support and encourage her! 🙂

  • Such great advice! I had my first taste of writing for someone else when I fiddled around with freelance this year. I've learned that I absolutely abhor writing non-fiction, and after I write that, I really have no desire to write anything else because I'm exhausted!

    Thank you for the encouragement, Misha!

  • So true, Misha! I always write for myself because I figure that if I want to read it, there's at least someone else who'll want to read it too. And if I can connect to it, same thing applies. It's when you try to please everyone that things fall apart.

  • Misha, you are an inspiration to writers everywhere, Thank You for this brilliant succinct post.

  • Jen Chandler says:

    Great post, Misha!

    It's so easy to try and follow trends with the hope that THIS idea or THAT best seller topic will be the one to launch YOU into stardom too. But the truth is, can you live with what you're writing? Because, when you write a novel, you live with it. Day in, day out. Eating, sleeping, walking, whatever your novel is there. And if you aren't passionate about it, you're going to be miserable until you finish and lock it away, or quit.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Damyanti, what a beautiful blog you have here! Thanks for hosting Misha 🙂


  • Giles Hash says:

    I agree. I also think it's important to nail down whether your story DOES fit, though. Writing for yourself is VERY important, but if you want it to get published, it does have to have a market.

    But you're also right: you can't write for the market because the market will constantly change :D.

  • Misha says:

    Same here, Loree. Thanks for the follow. 🙂 I agree with you about the work calling. Once my writing stops calling me, I start worrying about it…

    Aw thanks Myne!

  • Myne Whitman says:

    I love and follow Misha's blog, and this post is one of her usual true and helpful articles.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Nice meeting you, Misha.

    I believe that you must write for yourself as much as you write for others. It's calling…

    Also, a thank you to our lovely hostess…

  • Misha says:

    Aw thanks Mike! I wouldn't be able to do it if I didn't meet awesome people like you. 🙂

    Thanks Mary! I definitely know what you mean about the revisions. I would have given up on Doorways if I didn't love it. Especially the drafting… Revisions are easy in comparison.

    Talei and that love will hopefully carry you through the edits as well. Good luck with the SNI!

    L.G. So true, because finishing the draft isn't anywhere the end of the road for you and your WiP. There are revisions, queries, edits and (we hope) publishing and marketing the book as well…

  • L.G.Smith says:

    Totally agree you have to write for yourself first. You have to have passion to get through to the other side and finish a novel.

  • Talei says:

    I think writing what about something you love is always a good start. The endings are difficult, for me I'm editing 120k novel and its hard work. I will get there though. Its my shiny idea which I've not given up on. Yet. 😉

  • M Pax says:

    Misha is fab. 🙂

    It's so true. Writing a novel is hard work and to get through all the revisions and all it takes to get it to 'finished', you have to love it.

  • Writing is hard work. But you are an inspiration with both your blog and your guest posts. Keep it up Misha.

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