Monday, July 19, 2010

My Writing Niche

I'm 19 days into my Creativity Challenge and after a stellar first week where major writing was happening and I felt my writing mojo come back, everything has seemed to come to a screeching halt. I don't have any desire to open my writing, my thoughts are jumbled, and I feel like I'm slipping farther and farther away from the writer I want to be.

I think the problem ultimately stems from the fact that I really don't know what kind of writing I want to do. I flip-flop between Christianity and mainstream. From chick lit to romantic suspense to tween fiction. I feel like I have all these amazing ideas and all these amazing characters who want their stories heard, yet I can't find it in myself to pick just one story, stick with it, and write.

If I were to just sit down and write all the story ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for the past few years, I'm sure the number would be in the 30's. Some of those stories are lame and I need to just trash them. Some of those stories would require hours and hours of research and interviews to make it authentic. Some of those stories seem so good, they make my head spin. And they all fall under some different type of genre.

For all intents and purposes, I want to write for a Christian publisher. I know the types of books I want to write will be centered around faith and the struggles that entails. I don't want to write cheap Christian fiction, where the protagonist never seems to struggle much with real faith issues, such as purity and this tug-of-war played with worldly ideals. I want to write a different type of Christian fiction, something I haven't seen too much in Christian novels.

Since that's settled, I now have to figure out what story I want to write.
  • Do I want to write a chick-lit novel, which means writing with a lot more sass and humor than I usually do. My personality is perfect chick lit, but honestly, I can never seem to get my sassy personality to show in my blog. I feel like I'm much more subdued and serious on my blog. (Am I? Or am I sassy?!) I have tons of good ideas for this one but I really feel that it takes a special writer to write good chick lit. And I consider good chick lit to fall under Judy Baer and Kristen Billerbeck stock. (And if you haven't read a book by them, you are missing out.)
  • Maybe I want to write for a teen audience. Deep inside of me, tucked in a place that nobody gets access to, is this passion for teenagers. It's a small flame and something I don't talk about a lot. There's just something about teens, especially ones who struggle with faith, that gets to me. If I wrote a book for this audience, it would definitely be a little risky since I want to talk about real issues that real teens face. I don't want to sugarcoat anything, just because it's Christian fiction.
  • There's a part of me who wouldn't mind writing a more romantic type of story, a la Denise Hunter and Rachel Hauck. A story with a more serious side to it, but devoid of all the cheesiness many romance novels have. Just a powerful story about redemption and love.
I'm still not sure what my niche is. And I'm not sure how I can keep writing if I don't know this very vital part of my writing. But I do have a more concrete idea of what three genre's interest me the most.

Now it's up to me to just write. I have stories. I have an abundance of stories. Now I need to dig through these stories and find the one that suits me the best and I feel I can write the most honestly about.


  1. This is almost exactly how my writing goes too. I'm always torn between chick-lit, mainstream fiction, YA...there's so many types of writing that appeals to me! It's hard, but a lot of the time I have to push myself to just write the things I feel work with whatever story idea I'm going for at the time, and at the end I'll just see where it fits. The first write is to get the story and the ideas down; the editing and second run through can be the shaping towards a specific genre.

    Something else that always helps me is notecards. I write down ideas on notecards --anything from lines to the narrative arc to full scenes--so that I can physically rearrange my story and delete/insert what's needed. When I do this, I can usually see the genre it will lean towards or where I can write it to go.

    In the end, though, is the fact that you are a writer, with something to write. It's simple, but that's something to hold onto. As long as there's something there, I know you can and will find the way to write it.

  2. I think it's amazing that you have all those stories inside of you. Maybe I'm missing something, but what's limiting you? Why can't you write something in each of those genres? I mean, maybe not working on all three at once, but maybe the outlines for each, and then going back and fleshing them out? I dunno.

  3. Maybe if you find a story that you really want to marry yourself to for the next little while, and can't wait to tell, it will tell you which genre it wants to live in? :)

  4. I think we hinder ourselves when we try to fit into a niche.. When I try doing that I am often discouraged because I don't sound like myself.. I sound like I am emulating another author in that niche. jeepers, I dont even know what my niche is.. I think its important to simply write Steph, the right stories will speak to you.. Pursue those.


    Hannah Katy

  5. You're going to write the next "Twilight." I can feel it, you'll be all the craze-can I get your autograph now??? Good luck girl!

  6. First of all, I think just HAVING a Creativity Challenge is a huge head-start. (I'm with you right now... so many story ideas, but how to begin??)

    Second of all, I think you're going to write a great book. Your writing has a very likeable, personal style, and it's honest, too. I'm always looking for that when I begin a story. Those qualities will serve you well in whatever genre you choose.

    Third, you can TOTALLY write sassy : )

  7. Seriously, you sound JUST LIKE ME. I've participated in NaNoWriMo for two years now and I always seem to write like crazy for the first week and then... I lose it.

    I agree that it's probably because I have all these stories in my head for multiple different genres and I really need to figure out which I really want to WRITE! But it's so hard when you feel like you have so much in your head and you want to get it ALL OUT!

    You'll figure it out and I have no doubt you'll totally rock it!

  8. I agree with Kyla. I think if you just start writing and letting your thoughts flow, the story may start leaning toward a niche.

  9. I often find that when I sit down to write, the story goes into places that I never dreamed of. I would suggest you just start writing and keep an open mind as to where it might go and at the end of the process you'll have a better idea where it might fit.

  10. I am going through the exact same thing!! When I started writing about two years ago (well, started AGAIN) I got about 40 pages in, and stopped. Got bored, had better ideas - I have no idea. Then I started this next idea, and i'm about 60 pages in, and bam. Same deal. It's like after I get into it, I think of a better idea...and want to go another route. I'm never going to finish a book at this rate!!
    It's so reassuring to hear that you're going through the same thing! Dont get me wrong, I think it sucks for the both of us, but at least I know I'm not just crazy...maybe there's a word for this type of problem.
    Everyone has been giving me suggestions, and to be honest, I always find myself back in the same position!! Just so frustrating. Well, keep us posted on how it all progresses, and I'll do the same. Good luck!! I know I need it!!

    Lee-Ann ;)

  11. I think it will be easier than it is now - and I'm not saying it still won't be challenging - to write a complete story when you know for sure what you want to write. And I'm saying that based on getting to know you from reading your blog for a while now. I, on the other hand, know exactly what I want to write, how I want to write it, and what I want to happen, but it's the actual writing part that I can't seem to get done. The work, in so many words, basically. And now with classes about to start up again and still two more years ahead of me, not to mention grad school, I'm afraid I'll never get this story out of me. Hopefully one day I'll learn the blessing of priorities and balance.

  12. I often find that when I sit down to write, the story goes into places that I never dreamed of. I would suggest you just start writing and keep an open mind as to where it might go and at the end of the process you'll have a better idea where it might fit.

  13. You're going to write the next "Twilight." I can feel it, you'll be all the craze-can I get your autograph now??? Good luck girl!


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