Cave Creek,  motivation,  On Writing

Write Only For Yourself…

Something I Teach All The Time…

The great artist Bob Eggleton put up a post on Facebook tonight. A quote from Andre Malraux the French novelist (among other things he did.).

Malraux said, “An artist discovers his genius the day he dares not to please.”

I am constantly talking with young writers who are doing a number of things that I try to convince them are not critical. And often deadly.

  • 1… Writing to market. (What is supposedly hot in sales, what you have already done, what others tell you to write.)
  • 2… Write for beta readers or first readers or workshops. Just pretty silly when you stop and think about it.
  • 3… Write for a mythical critic or gatekeeper in your mind. Often this takes the shape of a family member or an editor at a magazine.
  • 4… Writing for perfection. Never possible, but your writing can’t be fun, otherwise it can’t be perfect.

All of those also bring in a ton of critical voice and will quickly (in a few short years) make your writing work, make it not fun, and something to avoid and eventually you just stop writing, even though you will talk about getting back to it any day now.

The secret of fiction writing is to have fun with it, do the best job you can, write only what you want to write, and then release and do it again.

Stop trying to please everything and everyone and just go sit down and play at writing fiction. You will be stunned at how good your writing gets if you keep learning at the same time.


  • Vincent Zandri

    I tackled this very subject last week at The Writer’s Life, Dean. What brought it on was after my mom read my latest Chase Baker Novel which deals in part with Vatican secrets (I love that stuff) , and being a daily church goer, she admonished me for my take. Note to self: write what you want, Vin, and stop giving mom your books.

  • Philip

    My favorite advice. What blows my mind is most of the greatest works of literature were created following these rules. Many of readers’ favorite books were by bold writers who followed their own muse and voice. I recently read Don Quixote for the first time and I loved every page. It was funny and moving and adventurous and very quirky. Cervantes was a “failed” playwright who said F it and wrote something so wild it had never been done before. Now it’s 400 years later and still be read and translated all over the world. Many say he invented the modern novel.

    • Nathan Haines

      Don Quixote has one of the loveliest openings: “En un lugar de la Mãcha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme…”

      Which (my translation) is: “In a place in La Mancha, the name of which I do not wish to remember…”

      I like it.

  • S. H. Miah

    I tried writing to market a couple of years back under a pen name. Wrote 1 novel with all the right tropes and plot points and reader expectations etc., published it right into kindle select too. Couldn’t even bring myself to edit the second novel after I’d written it, and then went through a year long burnout of no writing.

    Now I’m writing what I want, even if it’s ‘weird and unsellable’ stuff like full length novels written in verse because why not, and I’m having a blast. Doesn’t feel like work, and since I’m writing into the dark, some of the stuff that comes out of creative voice stumps even me, and I’m the writer of the thing.

  • Sophie Schiller

    Doing that presently. Writing a zany novel that no one else could have written. And the sole reason why I am writing it is because I think stories like this should exist! Also, I am writing a part for Aishwarya Rai, a kooky character that I would love for her to play. We’ll see how it turns out!
    Thanks for your article!