Like most aspiring writers, I tend to get an exorbitant amount of unsolicited advice from publishing firms, agents, writer acquaintances, blogs and so forth. For the first few stories I wrote, many harangued me with sometimes subtle but mostly damaging statements like “You can’t do this,” or “You can’t do that.”
As I embarked on my writing adventure, I took copious notes on what was expected. And so what happened after that? Well, this list grew and grew to the point of nausea. Don’t get me wrong there was a ton of excellent advice I found along the way. Honestly though, there was also a ton that I found crippling. Soon after, I grew more and more insecure. To give you an example, here are a few lists of "You can'ts" that I heard when writing my YA novel.
- You can’t self-publish.
- You can’t be that graphic in a YA novel.
- You can’t have prologues in novels.
- You can’t write about religion like that.
- You can’t write about personal stuff.
- You can’t have character be evil and then good.
- You can’t make a plot rule and then break it.
- Oh, and my favorite...You can’t write about vampires.
Well, as you can see the list goes on and on. I felt like not matter where I turned, I was incapable of making these rule-makers happy. After a couple of years, I realized that the growing expectation from others wasn't worth all the hype I’d given it. In fact, it wasn't worth much at all. The truth is when you constantly have people tell you, “You can’t do this or that,” it stifles the creativity.
Soon I realized my best course was to ask the inevitable…Why not? Now that I understand much more about myself, using this tactic has helped me stave off the naysayers and focus on what’s most important….the story.
If you want to write about a purple elephant who possess magical farts, then by all means write about it. As the owner of any story, what’s most important is you have total control from the beginning to end so make it a great one. Write a story that way you want to and don't listen to every little bit of crap out there.