Writing What You Want vs. Writing What is Publishable




by S.E. Jones

The two aren’t generally mutually exclusive, of course, but sometimes they feel like it. And sometimes you just write things because you want to.

Maybe they’re not all that publishable, or maybe they’re the wrong length. Maybe they’re the wrong type of story. Maybe you’re writing a vampire novel in an already over-saturated market. Maybe you really have a thing for westerns.

But why do it ? Anyone who’s been writing/doing stories for a while will tell you they have multitudes of ideas, some more “publishable” than others. I currently have a list of possible ideas–and I know which ones would have a better chance of doing well.

But I don’t make my decisions based upon “what would do well.” If I want to write a quasi-epic, contemporary, political thriller fantasy novel with a bi main character who gets married to another guy as a major plot point, then I will, damn it !

More seriously though–I think decisions on what you write, what you start, should be exactly that: decisions. Thought out, proper decisions. I wanted to write a novella to see if I could. Getting it published wasn’t in there. I’d like to, because I think it hasn’t turned out half bad, but if I send it to the 7 publishers who accept that length and they all say no, then *shrugs*. Publishing wasn’t my main aim.

Why write that mess of a genre bender described above? Because it started as a work for a friend, and I quite enjoyed the world and the characters I built, so I just…kept going.

Will some of my work be more…mainstream in the future? Yes. Because sometimes I’ll want to write something a bit more specific. Sometimes I’ll want to see if I can get a, b or c published.

But at the end of the day, I think as long as your aware of the consequences that come attached to certain pieces–for example, novellas, which sell pretty much not at all–then I’d go ahead and write whatever you want. Just be aware of exactly what you’re letting yourself in for, and if you’re not going to be happy with that outcome, pick something else.

Again, most people have more than enough ideas to be choosey. So pick something you’ll enjoy, in full knowledge of where it will most likely lead, and get on with it.



Guest post contributed by S.E. Jones. S.E. is a writer and paramedic living in London. When not doing the above two things, she reads.

12 thoughts on “Writing What You Want vs. Writing What is Publishable

  1. Unless the writer is a stone-hardened professional or a hack (oh that I had the courage to venture forth a list of those) ; then writing what is ‘publishable’ is a joyless and soul-sucking task which is unlikely to work because it will be full of clichés.
    For us humbler folk just write what we want to write is the true and only way. All the very best with your project; just go for it! (And never trust a spell-checker; they are mischief incarnate!)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think it’s easy to notice something that was written to be published. For me the stories that really touch you, get to you, suck you in, etc are those written for the sake of the story and not whether it’ll be published. When a writer puts their soul into their work (and I think when you write with a passion you do put a bit of your soul into it) then it really shows 🙂
    That plus writing for publishing purpose would just make me lose interest in writing it at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post. Thank you S. E. I write because I can’t imagine not writing. I write about anything and everything, because it will always be my favorite way of expressing myself. But there were many times when I squashed ideas because I was afraid they may not be publish worthy or appreciated. That was the reason I created my blog. I wanted to share what I appreciated. That way, no matter what, it’s published somewhere. 📚 This is a good and inspiring post. Thank you so much for sharing you’re insight. 😊✨


  4. Yeah, trying to guess what the market wants is a recipe for disaster. For a while I stepped away from my series because of this (who wants to read about the point of view of minor characters in an epic plot?)–it was too hard to market–but I continued writing in it and have been rewarded by actually liking what I’ve done. As a writer, you need to be honest, especially to yourself.


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