Getting started with a writing project can be daunting. It is difficult to know if the ideas in your head will look any good on paper, and whether anybody else will want to read them once they’re written down. It can be especially intimidating when you’re starting a project that’s close to your heart, a project of passion that showcases your own creativity and unique ideas. The best way to approach it is to have faith in yourself, follow your own dreams, and stick to your guns… but remain flexible.
So, how you can achieve this and realize your vision in writing?
Find your niche
The internet as a whole, and Amazon’s book-buying empire in particular, has made self-publishing much easier today than it was even 10 years ago. This is fantastic in that it gives writers the opportunity to reach a wider audience, but it also means that certain genres have become saturated with content. If you want to stand out in a popular genre, like modern crime or young adult vampire fiction, then you’re going to have your work cut out for you.
The best course of action here is to identify exactly what makes your writing and your ideas unique. Although it may be tempting to look for signifiers of success in others’ work and then try to replicate them in your own, this can only lead to the homogenization of everything that’s published. Inevitably, your voice will get lost in the crowd.
Instead, find your USP (unique selling point) and focus on that. Why will readers want to read your work over other people’s? What do you have that others don’t? Perhaps you’re writing from experience about something that is particular to you and your life, but relevant to many other people. Maybe you are approaching a subject from a bold new angle that hasn’t been seen before.
Whatever it is that makes your writing different, identify it and hold onto it.
Create something original
Once you have your niche locked down, it’s time to make something original. As writers, we are influenced by every book that has gone before us. This can make it difficult to come out with an authentic-sounding piece. It’s fine to pay homage to your favorites and to take inspiration from masters of the craft but remember that your individual voice is what makes you unique. It is what will make readers pick your words over others’.
This is where it can get tricky because, as mentioned in the introduction, you do need to stick to your guns whilst remaining flexible. You need to hold onto that USP you identified at the start but be prepared to accept that ideas are malleable creatures, bound to change and flex the longer you look at them. As you write a piece, especially a purely creative one, you may find that your original idea starts to morph into something completely different. This is okay so long as you stick to your own original voice and aren’t tempted to conform to what you think your audience expects.
A whole new world
Following your dreams through writing can lead to some crazy and fantastic situations that are stranger than fiction. When established author and journalist, Maria Konnikova, set out to write her latest book, she had no idea just how far it would take her. Her original premise was to write a book about the role that luck plays in life. This took her to the world of poker, entering live events and being coached by a successful professional. Fast forward a year or so and Konnikova is now an official PokerStars Ambassador, with a new writing project chronicling her journey online.
Many authors and writers have found themselves pursuing alternate career paths which they have arrived at through writing. When J. K. Rowling originally started crafting the Harry Potter series, she wasn’t thinking about acting as consultant to the screenplays of those very same books or becoming a co-writer for a stage play based on her fictional world. It’s unlikely she was thinking about her future role as a spokesperson for mental health and literacy, either! She was simply pursuing an idea, despite living in a demanding situation at the time.
This just goes to show that following your dreams and having faith in your own ideas can lead you the furthest. Whilst not everybody can experience such astronomical success from their writing (nor would want to!) it is worth bearing these examples in mind as you work on your own project. Remain true to yourself and you never know the opportunities that lie in wait!