Don’t Write Duran Duran!

As far as writers go, I’m still relatively young and inexperienced, but I’m not going to let that stop me offering advice to other writers and creative people! In fact, I feel like I’ve levelled up in the last year, both in terms of my writing abilities and my insight into living as a creative person. So, with my hard-won insight, I’m trying to get some of my ideas onto this blog. I wouldn’t take a break from writing fiction if I didn’t think I had something to say. This blog post is about writing or making something you believe in, as opposed to something you think people want. And it’s about loving what you make.

Writing Duran Duran

Several years ago, I read about the first book Neil Gaiman was commissioned to write—this was before he had made his big break with his Sandman comics. Gaiman was commissioned by a publisher to write a Duran Duran biography. He was given a meagre advance to cover his rent and living expenses, and he was told that the rest would come later, once the book was finished. Gaiman wasn’t a Duran Duran fan but he did a good job on the book. However, the publisher went bankrupt before he could get paid and he was left with no money and a large manuscript about a band he didn’t care about.  I’ve been telling this story to myself and other writers for years, and I can’t remember where I got it from, so I may have warped some of the details. But I don’t care if I’ve changed the story, because it serves its purpose. I regularly ask myself this question: Am I writing Duran Duran?

If you are writing something only for the big fat paycheque at the end, there is always a danger that you might not get paid. Then you’ll just be left with a book or a story you don’t give two shits about. If you write about Duran Duran (and you aren’t a massive Duran Duran fan) then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. However, if you write about something you love then you’ll still have something that means a lot to you when you finish it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to get paid for your work; I’m just saying that it’s mad to write only for money—especially considering it’s such a bad way to get rich!

Love What You Make

When I read a story, it is sometimes clear that the writer loved writing it. It’s one of the main reasons I enjoy Ray Bradbury so much. Some of my best writing—though not all of it—was an absolute joy to write. When writing is easy, it’s the easiest, sweetest thing in the world and I can’t stop smiling.

It is also sometimes apparent to me when a writer didn’t enjoy writing a story. Sometimes the writing is still incredible—even though the writer didn’t enjoy writing it—but I think the writing is only ever good despite the author’s joyless experience. Do not bleed into your keyboard; you’ll hurt yourself, none of your blood reaches your computer screen, and the blood can get under the keys and break them.

It’s so important to love what you make. I’ll repeat this, because it’s absolutely crucial to not writing Duran Duran: love what you make. Laugh at your own jokes; hate the villains you write; sympathise with them; love the villains you write; cry at your sad bits; and grin when you’re being especially clever. If you love what you write then you’ll never write Duran Duran—unless you love Duran Duran.


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