It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG, and the hashtag is #IWSG.

August 3 question – When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?
Whew! Talk about a challenging issue for authors, especially unpublished writers. When you’re starting out and unsure of yourself, you wonder do I follow my ideas or try to write for the bestselling genres? If an author wants a long career, can they afford to ignore the demands of the market? That is the million-dollar question.
When I started writing picture books in the 80s, agents and publishers said you couldn’t write about cats or dogs because they were overdone. Although that didn’t stop everyone else from writing about them. When I started writing children’s chapter books in the 90s, they warned against writing about witches or wizards for the same reason. Since then the Harry Potter phenomenon happened, so, yeah, thanks, guys. Several years ago, everyone was writing about vampires, then it moved on, and everyone wrote about zombies. I didn’t bother. Suffice to say, I stopped worrying about what the market wanted long ago.

I guess I’m fortunate. Being a hobby writer, sales are not my main focus.
I don’t strive for originality, either. Over the years, I’ve learned that the prose has to come through me in whatever state it arrives. Then I enjoy tinkering with the muse’s gift. After all, isn’t most of an author’s time spent on editing rather than the original free writing? It’s up to us how much we change the form.
At the editing stage, I appreciate the input of critique groups. I feel they give insight into how readers might think or feel. My sister always urges me to leave my stories untouched. Her point is that too many cooks can spoil the broth. I get it. However, I value the opinions of my critique group, feeling that at some stage, an author does need to consider their audience, even if they self-publish and their audience is few.

The danger is when you overdo the critique and meddle to the point that the essence of your creative intelligence gets diluted. Was it Terry Pratchett who said if you question the muse too much, you might stuff the whole thing up? I’m paraphrasing. But it was something like that.
Creativity is a divine splash of energy in our brains. My dear elderly friend, Meg, used to call it ‘the inspired whatevers.’ The writer’s task is to watch for when the muse might strike and endeavour to catch ‘the inspired whatevers’ straight off the ether. I remember one writing teacher telling us that we had to ‘grab the first word given, and from there, the rest would come.’ That has been true for me with my fiction. Sometimes, I have failed to catch the first word, which resulted in floundering, unable to get started. But, if I catch that first word, then we are away. The rest of the story tumbles out of the cosmos, ready and willing. That magical feeling occurs when art can happen, that tingling when you capture the spark. We authors act as the conduit for the sublime. As do all artists.

During the editing stage, we turn into alchemists. We try to bash and hammer the divine spark forcing it into a round hole. We take inspiration from the ether and try to make it fit within the standards of storytelling. I remain uncertain about how to get the balance right. How much do you add, and how much do you lose? It’s a constant balancing act.
How about you? Do you strive for originality with your writing? Or do you try to conform to current literary expectations? What do you think?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol

I’m never truly happy with everything I ever put out. There’s always something I can improve on. Phrase a sentence better. Make the message pop. Not be such a dullard. But facing that doubt is part and parcel of the writing life. ~ Stuart Danker


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  1. Keith says:

    Yvette, best wishes on not “stuffing” things up. Great term for a bad thing. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Olga Godim says:

    Your post captured it! Balance. That’s what we need for our fiction to work. And it is elusive. And mysterious. Nobody can explain exactly how to achieve it. Or what it is. So we all flail and flounder and try to do our best without the definition and with only vague directions. It is a constant surprise to me that so many of us actually succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Damyanti Biswas says:

    Great post. The key is always finding the sweet spot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Yvette. Mostly I work on instinct, and add to that the critique process and finally the editing. I write thinking of the reader, but only to have the ‘sound’ or rhythm of my writing as compelling as I can. I read my work aloud, and have recently begun to record myself reading. It’s an interesting thing to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Instinct and editing – there’s a blog post in there! Hi, Vivienne, you’ve hit upon something important, the reading aloud. If a story is hard to read aloud then you’re only ever writing for an audience of one – yourself. I used to tape myself reading chapters aloud when I had a video camera but haven’t done so for years. You’ve reminded me about it so thank you. Recording the story and then listening to it reveals all!


  5. elegancesicy says:

    When I first started writing, I had big plans to publish etc but now 8 years on the only thing I focus on is actually trying to pick up that hammer and put some wood in the forge. I don’t think about publishers or originality – I focus on the characters and try and get them in line. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

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