You probably think I’m crazy. Why would I write for someone who would hate what I write? That’s fair. But you probably already think I’m crazy before you read this post, so.
This is a technique that I use when I am trying something new, and I don’t feel confident in it. What if I suck at it? What if this project sucks? What if everybody laughs at me? What if I die drunk in a ditch? And then what if everybody laughs at my corpse?
You could take the advice from Mama RuPaul, supermodel of the world: Acknowledge the voice of your inner saboteur. Then keep going anyway.
That’s great advice, and I’ve sought to put it into practise in my life. But sometimes ya just gotta go with the inner saboteur. When I don’t feel at all confident in trying something new, I’ve developed a new method for how to motivate myself: I think of someone who will hate it. And then I write it so that they will hate it.
This could be a made-up person, but it works better if it’s a real person you know. Think about someone who would absolutely hate your project the way you would like it to turn out. Then, when you are writing it, make every choice possible into something that would make that person hate your work.
I tried this when I was writing a Lovecraftian podcast. I had 0% confidence in my abilities to write Lovecraftian horror, but I wanted to try anyway. I couldn’t bring myself to think about potential fans without imagining that they would be disappointed in my lacklustre effort. That thought paralysed me. So I thought, screw the fans. I imagined my work colleague, Lorelai, who would never ever listen to a horror podcast. Ever. Who would send me a withering look of death for even suggesting it.
I told myself, I’ll write it for Lorelai. I will write something that she truly, truly hates.
Whenever I sat down to write, I imagined Lorelai’s death-stare, and set out to make her even more upset about my choices. Whenever my character (a German POW who began to grow octopus suckers) reached a decision point, I asked myself, which option would Lorelai hate more? And then I picked that option. I wrote the whole thing that way. I was able to write it quickly, and without any self-doubt.
I never told Lorelai about the deal I made with her. How she inspired a story she would loathe if she heard it. I like Lorelai; I don’t even blame her for her hatred of horror. It’s not for everyone, and that’s fine.
I don’t use this method for every work-in-progress. I like to be driven by love, rather than by frustration, and I try to write for the folks who will love it, rather than those who will hate it. But this works in a pinch. If you’re in a place where you can’t imagine people loving it, try to think of someone who would hate it, and write for them.
It can also be important to realise that your writing isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. We get into trouble as creators when we try to be all things to all people. Knowing that there will be people who hate what you create will keep your feet on the ground.
It’s gonna be awesome. I promise.
Featured image was created by the author using elements from canva.com.