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A bit of writing advice:

If you hope to be published someday (or even write something good), write the thing that only you can write. 

There are better writers than you in this world. Writers better than you at crafting sentences and capturing moments and making readers laugh and cry and emote. Writers capable of manipulating and assembling words in an order that will always be better than your order.

If your plan is to be the best writer, forget it. There is only one best writer, and it’s probably not you. It will probably never be you. You’ll probably never crack the top 10 or the top 100 or even the top 1,000 writers alive today.

There’s simply too many people and too much talent in this world.

But all is not lost. You can still succeed. 

The way to separate yourself from the pack and find readers willing to read you is to find the stories that only you can write.

Find the stories that define you as a human being and a writer.

Find the stories that only your specific heart and mind can create.

This means that imitation will not work. It means that the books you love to read might not be the books you are able to write best. It means that your dream to by a mystery writer or thriller writer or romance writer might need to die in order for your dream of being a published, well read writer to flourish. 

For me, this means writing about protagonists who live on the fringes of society. The misfits. The rejects. The unnoticed and unseen. I tend to write about human beings with great, unrecognized, unrealized potential. Nonconformists. Voices yearning to speak. The unsung heroes. 

This is my bread and butter. These are the characters who I seem to understand. The people who I am able to easily inhabit. I find characters who I understand, and the plots of my stories flow from these imaginary people.   

It also means writing quirky stories filled with humor but also with moments that are likely to make a reader cry. I never dreamed of writing stories like this. I was sure that I would be a writer of thrillers and science fiction. 

Serious-minded books about serious things.

Once I tossed aside thoughts of writing in these genres and allowed the stories that only I can write to rise to the surface, I found success.   

For me, it also means writing stories of the absurd. Stories of the ridiculous made plausible. Fantasy made real. 

A few years ago, I was challenged by a friend to write a poignant, realistic story about a team of soccer players without arms. An odd request, but one that I thought was perfect for my sensibilities. 

Three days later, I finished the first draft of a short story that met the goals of the challenge. It’s an awaiting-to-be-published story that I love and the friend who challenged me admits is shockingly poignant, completely believable, and terribly disturbing.

When I accepted the challenge, I felt like I was the only person who could write that story well. I was the only person who could imagine a world in which armless soccer players could believably exist. 

This is what you must do. Find the story that only you can write, and bring all of your talent, skill, and effort to bear in writing it.