Write To Be Your Own Favorite Writer
One of my least favorite things about the business of writing is that success as a writer is often times dependent on the approval and tastes of other people within the industry. I’m OK with having to prove myself as a writer, and I definitely think it’s necessary to work at polishing my pieces so that they resonate with others. I also recognize the value of working with experienced and talented editors along with workshopping with other writers. It just seems at times that the advice that is given to new writers is not about finding a unique voice or honing their craft, it’s about convincing certain publications to publish their work, getting the attention of a literary agent, or even increasing a following on a social media platform.
All of these things definitely matter in the process of establishing a writing career, but before any of this can be relevant to your new writing career, you’ve got to develop the confidence that comes only with creating the type of work that would make you say “I wish I had written that” if it were written by another writer.
You’ve got to become your own favorite writer. Your work has to resonate with you before it will resonate with anyone else.
I used to get jealous when I would scroll through social media and see people commenting that other writers were their favorite writers. They were writers whose work I loved to read as well; many wrote about social justice issues, and some wrote about relationships, but their work always had a very relatable, conversational quality that I admired and wanted to emulate.
I would try to imitate these writers’ styles, and I would force myself to write about the things these writers regularly wrote about. I would try to take on these writers’ voices. My rationale was that if this formula worked for these writers, it would work for me. I thought that was the key to finally being told that I was someone’s favorite writer.
Of course, taking on someone else’s voice never works, and it didn’t for me. It felt as though I was trying to fill out someone else’s custom made dress, and the places where it gapped and stretched awkwardly glared increasingly more over time. After I got tired of continually being frustrated by writer’s block and an inability to produce content fast enough to keep up with the latest social commentary topics in the news cycle, I decided that I needed to figure out what the problem was.
I accepted the fact that while I might enjoy reading social commentary, think piece style writing, I didn’t enjoy writing it. I prefer to work on pieces over a longer period of time and thoroughly polish them, and think piece writing doesn’t always allow for that since it has to be timely and in sync with what is going on in the news and what people are currently talking about. I also took some time to really think about what my ultimate goal as a writer is, and that’s not to be known as a media critic, a relationship guru, or an opinion writer. My main goal has always been to excel as a creative writer of poetry and fiction, so I had to make the decision to stop chasing what was popular to write and focus on writing the types of things that are the reason why I love writing and that get me closer to achieving my unique goals as a writer.
I am guided by the words of one of my favorite writers, Toni Morrison:
“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
I’m planning on posting this quote on a wall in my office so that when I lose direction or when I start to get swept up in trying to write what’s trendy, I’ll remember to focus on writing the types of stuff that may not exist but that I yearn to read. This is how I’ll become my own favorite writer, and hopefully someone else’s one day, too.
Are you your own favorite writer? If not, what changes do you think you’d have to make to become your own favorite writer?
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