WRITING FROM THE HEART
A common phrase from writers is: This is a book of my heart. What exactly does that mean?
Honestly, it means different things for different writers, but for many it means that they don’t consider the book particularly commercial but the book is one they felt compelled to write and so the writer wrote the book from the heart.
Books of the heart can be about anything. They are works that the writer not only feels compelled to write but driven by something deep within to write. Whether it’s to share an experience, like enduring and surviving breast cancer, the loss of a loved one, or the enthusiasm one feels for a subject. An event experienced can produce some of an author’s most heartfelt work.
When readers read and weep, or read and laugh out loud, odds are good that, when writing, the author did, too. It’s an emotional connection to the work that makes a book one of the heart.
Many years ago when I started writing fiction, I felt flustered at all the rules. The things the writer could and could not do as defined by others in the industry. That largely had to do with selling what the writer writes, and it annoyed me to no end. So I created my writing rule. I put a lot of thought and effort into this, and decided I’d abide by one rule: I will not write a book I don’t love.
That’s it. That’s been my only rule for nearly three decades. Has it been the easiest way to develop a writing career? No. But I wasn’t just building a writing career. I was also building a life. This was my choice, I made it, and I’m content with it.
What that means is that every book I’ve written or will write will be books from my heart. Ones that are written for a specific purpose, carrying a specific hope. Books that have meaning to me and I hope for readers.
There have been drawbacks to that decision, of course. The moment you choose to write to sell, you become subject to what will selling, is selling, is projected to sell. You make your own life more difficult if what you’re writing doesn’t fit into established marketing niches. But the fulfillment factor is enormous. The feedback from readers whose lives are touched is an amazing thing. On a scale weighing the pros and cons, I’ll take reader reaction over commercial success every time. My mission is to help the broken heal. Other writers have other purposes and well might make different choices. That’s fine. Great. Every writer must examine themselves and their own work and make the choices that are best for them. Just as I did.
My concern is what it’s always been. That writers drift into their choices in order to sell rather than writing books that hold meaning to them. But that, too, is a choice, and it isn’t a wrong one, only different from mine. It’s a personal decision. My fear for them is that they’ll reach the end of their careers and regret. Regret is a mean taskmaster.
I could write a book on the benefits of writing each book, each article or post, from the heart. But while we’re universal in what touches most of us, we are individual, too. Each writer, I believe, has a personal mission. Mine is to shine light in dark places so readers can discover that constructive solutions to problems exist. If my characters found those solutions, then readers can, too. Other writers have other missions. One of my dearest friends’ mission is to entertain. To offer readers an escape from their troubles for a time so that they can just laugh and enjoy themselves. Worthy and noble mission, as I discovered firsthand.
I remember sitting at mother’s bedside. She was hospitalized and in grave danger. Every minute seemed a lifetime long. Reading one of my friend’s books in tiny snatches—a minute here, two minutes there—gave me a respite from the worry. Don’t underestimate the value of a moment’s escape. It gives you a pause in which you can gather the strength to face what comes.
Whatever your mission as a writer and as a human being might be, know it, and adopt and embrace it. That’s the point of this post. Be true to yourself and your mission because to not do so is to betray your heart—yourself—and if you do that, you can bet regret will bite you hard.
There are many challenges in being a writer. In selling what you write. But if you are true to yourself and your mission, then you easily stay centered and balanced because you know your purpose and you’re working in harmony with it.
And that makes your writing, work written from your heart.
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.
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