Sunday, 22 December 2019

What's Hot and What's Not

I get asked this question all the time.

Writers everywhere want to know what's popular, what will sell now and in the future. They think there might be some great oracle out there that can answer this question - or that maybe publishers and agents on the inside might know this information and are somehow keeping it to themselves.

Would that this were true!

Think about it. Five years ago could you have predicted what you are doing now?

Most of us don't know where we're going to be living in five years time - and even if we think we do, events conspire to change our plans. Life is organic, some might say unreliable.

Even two years ago, is there any way you could have foreseen today's news? Could you have known which celebrities or politicians were going to be in the spotlight? Or which ones had faded from view?

Of course not. It doesn't work that way.

The bestselling books and movies that are with us today were conceived and written AT LEAST two years ago - many much more than that.

Sometimes an artist, writer or director may have been working on an idea for decades before it reaches the public.

What's hot now may have seemed a completely naff idea five years ago - but the idea was pursued until it was fully formed and ready for the public.

Writers have a responsibility to write what's important to them - without forever casting nervous eyes at the marketplace and wondering if they're misguided or somehow missing the boat.

Because it's the writer's vision, dedication and enthusiasm for her chosen subject that will eventually resonate with the public.

It's simple really. People like good ideas that are well expressed - no matter what genre or subject matter is currently trendy.

Think about the books, movies, writers and artists that you like. They have a timeless quality, right? Being a slave to the market doesn't make a creative person better or even more successful.

We see many people who try to jump on bandwagons - but do we respect them for that? Do they last?

Rarely. It's a person's work or personality, their uniqueness that we respect, relate to and cherish.

Your personal integrity is important. It's your love of a subject and your faith in your vision that will carry you forward. It's these things too that will inspire publishers and producers to believe in you.

There's no point in thinking, oh, JK Rowling and Dan Brown are successful, therefore I should do something like that - because that's precisely what publishers don't want writers to do.

You have to think in terms of yourself. Not, is there room for another ---------- (insert author's name here), but is there room for ---------? (Insert your name here!)

It's being passionate about your work that will - if you're serious, willing to work hard and okay, get lucky too - that will make YOU the next big thing, YOU that hot new trend that lesser writers aspire to.

Life's too short to be forever trying to predict trends. If it were at all possible to know the future, we'd all have won the lottery by now - or we wouldn't have wasted time with all those nasty people we wished we hadn't met!

The best we can do is write from the heart, and keep on writing to the best of our ability.

Accept rejection as positive criticism, rewriting and reworking ideas until they're strong and incontrovertible - until they shine with an inner light that can't be doused or ignored.

Most of all, believe in yourself and your work.

Do that, and the rest will follow.

Keep writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy