I just finished Seth Godin's newest book. It's excellent — a great manifesto for why niches rule the world and what we misfits can do about it.
Reading it got me thinking about writing.
Writers have always been weird
Think of Twain. Dickinson. Kerouac. Capote. All very weird.
Eclectic. Quirky. Dangerous.
Since the beginning of time, writers have bucked the status quo.
They push limits, test boundaries. They challenge normal.
The world is finally catching up
Even now, there is pressure. To conform. To become mediocre. To be what others would have us be.
And I need to remind you: there is still great cause to be weird with your writing. Lots of writers I respect are doing it.
Lia London writes fantasy stories. Despite the pressure to write for the masses, she chooses to be weird.
I wrote (and published) an eBook about not writing to get published. And more than my mom liked it. That's weird.
Brett Henley is telling the story of the American prison system from the perspective of a prisoner who's found redemption. He's financing the whole project himself and writing it publicly. That is weird.
Everywhere you look, Weird exists
It's in toy stores and concerts. On Broadway and at the mall. It's in your home and mine. Weird is unavoidable.
There's just one catch: Weird isn't weird anymore. It's normal to have eclectic tastes, to enjoy Arcade Fire and Bob Dylan, to read Cormac McCarthy and J.K. Rowling.
In other words, you don't have to be Stephen King. Or Michael Crichton. Or even Ms. Rowling. In fact, you shouldn't even try.
Trying to be weird may, in fact, hurt your writing, instead of setting it free.
Don't be weird; be you
You don't need to find a niche. You just need to be you.
That's what marketers will do when they read Godin's book. They'll try to exploit this idea of weird; they'll look for a way to “capitalize” on it. And they will miss the point.
Don't do that. Don't try to game the system.
Be truly weird by not trying.
If that means being weird, be weird. But whatever you do, be yourself.
You may find more than your fair share of brothers and sisters joining you.
Also, this list is interesting: Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors
Are you a weird writer? Why? How? Share in the comments.
*Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links.