This post originally appeared in September of 2014 on Medium.
It’s hard to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do. Yet, we do it every day. Many of us dislike our job, but we march into the office every Monday and work through the week. Some of us dislike ourselves, but we refuse to change even though we say we want to. But when it comes to the minor things in life, if we don’t want to do them, we just don’t. You should take baby steps toward doing the things you truly want to do, and that includes your writing.
If you've been writing what you think sells but you are not passionate about the topic or genre, stop. You need to be writing about something for which you have passion. You need to be writing about something that sparks an interest deep down. Otherwise, you will churn out nothing worth a reader’s time. Hell, you won’t churn out anything worth your own time. As much as you convince yourself that writing is writing, and you’ll focus on your passion when you’ve “made it,” you won’t. If you go down the path of writing about what you think sells or what others have told you sells, you will have a difficult time breaking that habit.
Writing is a deeply personal experience. But it’s one we share with others. We grow thick skin, we bare our souls, we try to inspire, to entertain, to invoke emotion. You ignore all of that when you write about something for which you have no real interest. And it will show in your writing. No matter how good a writer you might be, you will be far worse off if you choose to go against your passion.
So what if someone tells you comedy novels do not sell? So what if your love of historical vampire stories runs counter to what might be popular now? So what if you only want to tell stories in the first person from the perspective of the opposite gender when so many say it’s a risky move? Do what goes beyond your interests. Do what drives your passion.
Today, change the way you write. Write a short story, a few sentences, a few words — write whatever amount you want, but write because you like to write. Not because you are trying to sell something. The world would be better off with more people doing things for the right reasons and less people doing things or money. Will money come if you focus on your passion? Maybe. Maybe not. But in the end you will be happier.