Guest Post: Steering Yourself in the Wrong Direction

Today I’m happy to welcome Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of Cinders to The Variety Pages. Read through for a chance to win some really great prizes!

One of the interesting things about writing is the cycles we go through. I’ve noticed time and time again that many writers start out writing just for themselves. They write and write without a care in the world, and then they become increasingly aware that they might want to share their work with others. In fact, they almost become obsessed with sharing their work and getting it published. They start querying and researching and working more on their writing.

This is the point where I, personally, came under the impression that I had to impress people. That began to affect my writing and attitude about writing. Like a poison, it slowly infected my bloodstream. I started to change my writing to things I thought would impress people the most, things that would catch an agent’s eye the most, things I felt went against what I really wanted to write.

Very sad.

After I self-published my book, Cinders, a great relief swept over me. My work was out there and whether or not I impressed people I was happy with the book and what I had accomplished. I suddenly realized how easy the book had been to write compared to my other work when I was trying so hard to make it what others wanted. Choosing the route I did gave me great freedom over that weight on my shoulders. I wrote exactly what I wanted to write and I gave myself permission to be happy about it!

I think, oftentimes, we writers don’t give ourselves permission to write exactly what we want to write. Don’t get me wrong – you’re writing still has to meet the standards of quality that publishing a novel requires, but you should never compromise what you want to write just because you want to get published so badly you’d cut off your right toe. When you’ve written what you want to write with no exceptions, and it is quality, well-written work, you’ll get an audience, an agent, and a publisher if you work hard enough to get them. And trust me, it shows in writing, published or not, if a writer has compromised what they wanted to tell.

Wanna win some cool stuff, or even a copy of Cinders? Leave a comment for Michelle and follow the instructions below. Here are the details from Michelle:

This is SO easy! Just fill out the form linked here for each time you commenton one of the blogs involved in the tour. Each entry is a chance to winone of the prizes. Only one entry per blog, thanks!

Thanks so much for visiting us on your blog tour, Michelle!

16 comments on “Guest Post: Steering Yourself in the Wrong Direction

  1. Michelle Davidson Argyle

    Thanks for hosting me, Jamie!!! This post was fun to write.

    Don’t forget, everyone, to sign up for prizes using the link at the bottom of the post!

  2. Angelique

    Great post! What you have to say about this also applies to blogging as well =)

  3. Janel

    Great post, Michelle! Staying true to yourself is something would should all remember more often.

  4. Rayvenne Black

    I agree with Angelique! This is a fantastic post. The message I got from it? Be true to yourself in your writing (and in anything else really) and that’s when you are at your best. When someone enjoys what they are writing it comes through sooo much more. 🙂 Just from reading the sample pages you can tell that you cared about and enjoyed writing Cinders.

  5. SidniM

    This is a message we hear over and over and know what? We need to! It’s so hard to not get caught up in what you’re “supposed” to be doing or supposed to be writing. Thanks Angelique for reminding us once again not to write what we care about.

  6. C. N. Nevets

    This can also be found in the tyranny of critique groups. I do not oppose crit groups or crit partnerships, but I always advise developing writers to use them with caution. I’ve known so many writers who have lost their narrative voice and their unique style because they bent over backwards to accommodate the preference of a half a dozen writers with different voices and styles than their own. I hope success stories like yours encourage people that it’s okay to take advice and criticism and learn from it but also to say, “But that’s not the story I want to tell.”

  7. Tara Maya

    I think writing groups and beta readers can be helpful for finding out if you’ve achieved what you want to achieve with a piece. Not whether they liked it but whether it made them feel the emotion you were trying to convey.

  8. Jamie DeBree

    Thanks for a great, thoughtful post, Michelle. I agree…it’s easy to fall into that “I have to write this way to get published” trap. And as you say, there are certain standards that should be followed, but it’s very easy to go overboard and kill our own writing in the process.

    I had a pretty bad experience with my first crit group way back when…and haven’t even considered joining another. My mistake then was assuming the others knew more than I did, which turned out not to be true (none of us knew enough LOL).

    These days, I like beta readers to tell me if the story works, and I prefer actual editing to fix the technical bits. No real chance of my own voice or stories getting lost that way.

  9. Bethany Mason

    I completely understand where you’re coming from with this post – I’ve noticed that since I’ve started considering publishing my work, I have focused more on what other people want to read about than on what I want to write about and it’s strangling my writing. Thank you for pointing this out to me, and I’ll definitely be working more to figure out what I want to write about from now on.

  10. Dawn Embers

    Excellent post. While one doesn’t want to be too stubborn and hard to work with when getting published, there is still a need to be true to the writing. This is another interesting element that makes the blog tour great. Different posts but all a good promotion for the novel.

  11. alice priday

    i love your work michelle. cant wait to read more of your books. love your style of writing its very refereshing, thanks for your work

  12. scott g.f. bailey

    I already have a copy of “Cinders!” I hope oodles of folks buy and read it.

    I’m glad that you’re writing more for your own enjoyment. If my work didn’t amuse me, I’d stop writing. I have no idea what ‘the market’ is like, and I don’t care. As Ezra Pound used to say, “No art ever grew by looking into the eyes of the public.”

  13. Christine Fonseca

    Love this post. It is so important to remember to stay true to ourselves…and yet so darn hard to accomplish.

  14. Laura Hartness

    Your thoughts – so true! I think one reason I haven’t written much of anything is because of insecurity over what people would think. That, and I don’t have a story in my head right now. Glad you had a story, and put it to paper!


  15. Michelle Davidson Argyle

    Thanks for your comments and dropping by, everyone!!! I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts. 🙂

  16. Trade Forex

    I really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future