Saturday, August 22, 2015

Guest author Lorie Lewis Ham: Write What You Love

Lorie Lewis Ham has been publishing her writing since the age of thirteen and singing since the age of five. She worked for her local newspaper off and on for years, and in 2010 became the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine. She has also published five mystery novels. You can learn more about her mystery writing on her blog

I have been writing since the age of seven and publishing since 13, and yet sometimes I forget to do something that came naturally in the beginning. I forget that you should write what you love! When I was a kid, it never crossed my mind to write anything else.

Writing what's popular can look like the smart thing to do, and for some people it works, but if your heart and your passion aren't in it, I believe readers are going to know. I started trying to write a novel when I was 15, and I tried to write what was popular or what I thought would sell, but nothing worked for me. Then I tried writing a mystery. Mysteries were what I loved reading, and watching. That's when things started working for me. Now I'm talking mostly about fiction and poetry, but I think your passion can show through if you love what you are writing about in non-fiction as well.

I was temporarily sidetracked in my early twenties by a writing teacher who was determined I had to write romances--Christian ones no less--because they were popular and because I was a sweet, Christian girl. If only she! I loved killing people, on the page that is. I tried to write a romance and it was crap--I hated reading them so how could I write one? If you don't like what you are writing, even if it is well written, it will lack heart.

So I wrote a mystery and published five of them with a small publisher. Then I got sidetracked by publishing an online magazine--Kings River Life Magazine. This too has worked because it's filled with things I love--mystery book reviews, mystery short stories, mystery everything, fantasy book reviews, pets, theatre, music, food, and more!

Last year I decided it was time to get back to writing books and stupidly I started trying to come up with an idea that I thought would sell. And of course, it just wasn't working. I write because I love it, and because I want to share that love with others-the love of a story. It's no fun, and the passion is missing, if I'm just trying to write something that's commercial. So recently, I got back on track. I stopped trying to come up with a setting that would fit in with all the popular mystery cozies out there right now, and finally it's working again. I'm writing about what I love, what I'm passionate about, and I believe that will show on the page.

Don't get me wrong, there are some fun books out there written totally to formula or to a theme that's popular--some people can really put their hearts into those type of books and they do sell, and maybe you will be lucky and what you love IS what's popular. But what's popular can change so quickly. What if by the time you have it done it's not popular anymore? If that was your sole goal in writing it, where are you then?

Sure from a financial standpoint there's something to be said about writing about something because it's popular, but where's the fun in that? Why not stand out in the crowd? Those are the books that change lives, and the books that have the ability to live on forever! There's also a great satisfaction in writing something that is a part of you, instead of just what everyone else is writing. Maybe it will take you longer to find a publisher, but in the end isn't it worth it?

And again, if you are one of those people who can write to formula, or write what's commercial, and do well with it, more power to you. But if it's not working for you, you may just want to try writing what you love!


Charles Gramlich said...

Doesn't seem a lot of money most times in writing what you love, but I don't see any other way to go about it. I just have to write the things that excite me.

Kings River Life said...

Amen to that!

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome to Novel Spaces, Lorie!

I have to write what I love--but I have a deep respect for some authors I know who study the market and write whatever is trending. They certainly make a lot more money than I do. I think their success might be partly due to the fact that they see writing as a business first and foremost, while the rest of us don't really.

Sunny Frazier said...

The publishing houses are notorious for driving authors to write what the house thinks is on trend. All these craft cozies, it's getting ridiculous. Cheese shop mysteries, barbecue mysteries, cupcake mysteries--if you can eat it, they will write it! And, authors change their names for every series.

While my new love is historical fiction and non-fiction, I could never attempt to write one. I worked in law enforcement, I know that world and write about it. I also know astrology, so I feel comfortable writing about that. However, I'm seriously thinking about putting some historical elements in a future Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery. Might happen.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I have written, not what's trending, but what I've been contracted to write at that time. Even though it's a decent story, I didn't enjoy the process and even the finished product, I tend to think twice about promoting it. It didn't feel like me or like I've accomplished something great.

Every time since then that I've tried writing in a "popular" genre, I have not been able to complete the book. It seems devoid of the passion I put into my books. So Lorie, you're absolutely right: write what you love.

authorlindathorne said...

I listened to Jeffrey Deaver speak at a Killer Nashville Conference one year about why he writes. He said that it's a business to him. He writes, publishes, takes a vacation and then starts writing again. He spoke of it as "strictly business." It's his career. I admired his honesty and the fact that he's done what he set out to do, but I feel like Lorie. Writing, to me, has to involve what I want to write about, want to say, need to say. Most authors I know feel the same way. Deaver has done well for himself and there's nothing wrong in writing for money. I just think a lot of us get caught up in our own stories, ones needing to get out. This was an interesting post. Being published that early says a lot for Lorie.

Marja said...

Terrific post, Lorie! I write what I love; mysteries that are lighter reading with a little humor. Although some people don't get it, writing really is a job. However, writing is the most fun I've ever had while working. It's what I love to do. Thank you for a good reminder.
Marja McGraw