Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Head Versus Heart



Photo by Ladyheart, www.morguefile.com
How many times have you heard a writer, actor, or artist talk about his or her wildly successful project? Often, we hear or read that such a project has sprung from subject matter close to the creator’s heart—some deep passion about something. In the September, 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest, for example, author Chris Cleave (best seller Little Bee, as well as Incendiary and Gold) shared that he only writes about topics that he really cares about.  Doesn’t it seem like more often than not, success stories start with this kind of spark or passion?

On the other hand, though, it’s sometimes hard to ignore what the market hungers for or requests.

If you are a writer, do you write solely about subject matter that has deep meaning for you or that resonates with you? Or, do you let trends or the market influence what you write about? In other words, do you listen to your head or your heart as you decide on a new project?

When you read, can you discriminate between an author who is passionate about his or her subject matter and one who may be more grounded? Does passion for a topic or subject matter always bleed through? Does it need to?


50 comments:

  1. Good question. My stories always include at least an element of romance. I like to think that I'm passionate about those HEAs and about people finding what & who make them happy & complete. :)

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  2. I write about something that grabs me in a particular way and hope that it will magically coincide with an emerging trend. The thing about writing for trends and current markets is I don't write fast enough to be able to latch on to whatever's hot right now. So I guess I'm a heart guy.

    As for the second question, it's hard to know. If you read a book that's 'bad', I can't tell if it's because of lack of passion or lack of something else.

    Nice to see you, hope all is well.

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    1. I am with you, Jeff--I don't write fast enough to keep up with the trends. And it's true that it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint passion or the lack of it in novels.

      Thanks--it's nice to be back yet again. : )

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  3. I have to love it; writing a novel is too hard and takes too long to do otherwise.

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  4. I have written poems about things that aren't that of interest of me, but I think those that I feel more strongly about turn out better.
    I mostly write books about things I'm interested in. More exciting!!

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    1. Interesting, Kelly! "Exciting" is a good word to describe the things we're more passionate about.

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  5. On average I've had most success with stories about subjects which really interest me.

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    1. And probably more fun, too? : ) Thanks for stopping by and following, Patsy. Nice to meet you.

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  6. I try to do both. I write what I'm passionate about, but see how I can make it marketable. I admit, as a novice writer I did not do this. I've learned!

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  7. I totally write what I want I read. If that happens to match up with trends, yay. If not, I'd still want to read it.

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    1. You are in good company, Donna. I think a lot of very successful authors write what they want to read.

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  8. I always seem to have a multitude of story ideas in my mind, so while I write what I'm passionate about, I also choose that idea that might be the most marketable.

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    1. Lucky you, Victoria, for being able to choose from a multitude of story ideas.

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  9. I listen to both my head and my heart. I love history and romance, and I think my passion for it does bleed through.

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    1. You make a great point, Loree. Passion may not need to come from just the story topic or idea. Passion can come from love of a genre.

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  10. I'm not practical in terms of writing to make money. I write what I love to write, not what is popular. See? Not practical in the least. But I can't write things that I don't feel passionate about. I'm doomed to obscurity, but I'm enjoying the writing.

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    1. Doomed to obscurity? No way, Lee. I bet your passion will pay off in the long run, if it hasn't already.

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  11. I think it's best to write what you feel passionate about so that the emotion you feel will carry you through the project from first draft to last and all the revisions between.

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    1. Another good point, Dave: Writers almost have to be passionate about a writing project in some way, just to make it through the process.

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  12. I think the best kinds of work are a combination of both. But as a writer, i do tend to go with my heart more often.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  13. I definitely write what I'm interested in, what I know. It used to kind of concern me that I wasn't into writing for the tends. But I've seen so many quotes from authors exhorting us to write what we what to write that I'm not concerned any more. After all, that's what J. K. Rowling did and look where it got her?

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    1. Great point, Bish! And J.K. Rowling started another trend. : )

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  14. I write what's important to me. It's only then do I feel passionately about the story. I don't follow trends, but I'll admit I have started writing NA stories ever since I discovered how great they are. And that was about the time that they took of popularity wise. :)

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  15. My head gets about two seconds of input. Mostly I follow my heart. I have to care. It's just the way it is with me. Sadly, it's not always beneficial to the wallet, but I'm happy.

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    1. Ahh, yes... the wallet. Sad indeed that it sometimes gets neglected, but happiness is priceless, right? : )

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  16. I write from my heart. I don't know how I'd see something through to the end if I didn't have that kind of connection.

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    1. I agree, Ruth. "Connection" is a good word for this.

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  17. I could never write just for the market. This is why I have my day job. Ha, ha.

    I definitely write about things that I'm passionate about. We spend too much time with our WIP. I couldn't do it any other way.

    Sometimes when I read, I feel like a book is missing something and I always wonder if they just needed to honor the contract and just get it done.

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    1. I know what you mean about how a read can sometimes be missing something hard to define, Karen. Maybe that is the lack of passion or heart.

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  18. The heart always. I don't have the discipline to stick with a subject I'm not passionate about.

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    1. I know what you mean, Shannon. This is especially true with novels, which can take much more time than some other writing projects.

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  19. I've tried writing in different genres, but I've settled on mysteries because those are what I love the most. It's not the subject matter so much that I'm passionate about, but the questions and the mysteries and the suspense. I'm sure I couldn't write as effectively in a genre I wasn't as excited about.

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  20. That makes perfect sense, Susan. Happy writing! : )

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  21. I listen to heart and head. I won't write something "just" for the market, but since I want to be a career writer, I plan to always have more and more ideas that I love and can write about. I will choose the ones that seem to be the smartest market choice at the time.

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  22. Very wise, Marcia. Lucky you to have lots of ideas to select from! : )

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  23. I always write things that resonate with me. I can tell when an author writes to the market. It will lack the freshness and voice of his or her earlier works.

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  24. I agree, Medeia. A "...lack of freshness" is a great way to describe some less than heart-felt stories.

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  25. Hi Cynthia!
    Dropping by to say hullo!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  26. Hi Nutschell! Thanks for stopping by! : )

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  27. Heart... I often cry as I'm writing. Or I have to get up and walk around for a while because I'm emotionally affected with what my characters do. Xx

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    1. I love that you are this touched by your characters and what they do, Michelle. That's awesome.

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  28. When I feel emotional when I'm reading, then I know this author was passionate about this story and wrote it with heart!

    Nas

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    1. I agree, Nas. The emotions seem to transfer from the author to the page to the reader. Wonderful comment. Thanks!

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  29. I only write what I'm really interested in, so I suppose I'm more heart/emotion focused. In reading--I enjoy a good story, whether it's an emotionally laden one or not. :)

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