Do What’s “Write” For You

’Cause Fans Are Fickle

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Easily the worst advice I’ve ever seen given to both young and beginning writers is “write what sells.”

Do not, and I can’t emphasize this enough, follow. Fucking. Trends. That goes for life, business, and especially writing.

Trends die quicker than anything on this planet. One minute something is “in” and the next it’s “out.”

Remember that four year period where everyone went absolutely crazy for vampires? Imagine spending 6 grueling years working on a vampire book that no one wants to read anymore.

You are what makes a “trend”

Ever heard of the Pet Rock? You think the guy that invented that shit was like “the rock market is really tough right now, no one’s buying” ?


He literally packaged rocks into boxes with holes in them and millions of people bought that shit for months on end. He made his own trend.

Fans change their taste way too often. Trying to “time the market” will leave you very very upset. You can’t predict how long something will be popular for.

If you’re going to commit to a novel, do it out of love.

Write what you know

When you veer away from writing what’s true to you, you’re leaving behind your voice, your style, and chasing someone else’s dream.

I know — writing is an art form and a business, but at what point does the monetary gain outweigh the art?

Instead of writing what’s hot or what fans want to read, write your own shit. Make your work the new trend.


Writers are at their best when they write what they know.

Everyone knows something. It can be in genres — like crime, historical fiction, sci-fi, etc.

You can write based off of work and life experiences. Agatha Christie always eluded to various poisons in her work due to her short history in the medical field. Writing what you know can also be in the abstract. You can write about pain, happiness, and anxiety.

If you’re a single parent, you know what it’s like to be a single parent.

You get the point.

Just write about something that you can’t get out of your head — it will make committing months/years to a novel or article a lot easier.

Write for yourself — your fans can tell when you’re faking it

I can tell when a writer didn’t have very much fun working on their piece. When I watch a movie that had a lot of “behind the scenes” issues, it shows in the bad performances.

You can fake a lot of things in life — good art isn’t one of them. Writing is an intimate experience that requires the writer to give all of themself to the blank page so that they can transfer their thoughts, feelings, and wants to the mind of a reader.

There was a short period in college where I tried to ghost-write for blogs. I hated every single minute of it.

I liked talking about politics, culture, race, philosophy, crime — but I was chasing money and attempted to write a fluff piece about avocados.

It was not good.

Imagine reading an erotica novel from someone that only wrote it for money and not because they enjoyed it. The scenes would probably be less “hot and steamy” and more “two people just awkwardly flopping on top of each other.”

Let’s say that you do finally finish your novel that has great “marketability,” — you probably still won’t sell as much as you should.

Why? Because it’ll be hollow and cookie cutter because you removed the most important aspects from it — you and your style.

Writing what you know and what makes you happy is an enjoyable experience for both the writer and the reader. The words just explode off of the page whenever a piece was written with passion or care.

Wanting to be paid for your skills isn’t a bad thing. But timing the market and following trends isn’t the answer. Good writing is what sells books.

There’s no amount of market analysis or SEO or whatever that will replace something that was written from a place of 100% authenticity.

So write in your voice about what you want to talk about — there’s an audience out there waiting for you.

You may just end up making your own trend.

This story is published in a Few Words, Medium’s brand new publication which only accepts stories that have less than 500 words.

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