Okay, this is something I'm gonna shriek from the rooftops forever:
If you're going to be a writer, write what makes you happy.
Countless times during your writing process, you're going to read your own work and wilt in defeat. It's cliche, or it's already been done before or the plot twist is totally predictable. All new ideas seem worthless compared to other authors' work. One thought shoots repeatedly through your head: no one will ever want to read this.First of all, that isn't true. Second of all, if you're going to stare at a document and consider nothing except your audience, you may as well punch yourself in the throat.
Considering audience is important. We all agree on this. But I'll deviate from the mainstream just far enough to remind you that audience isn't supposed to be involved in every single step. If you sit down with a new idea and your first thought is of audience, you're about to drag yourself through a lot of unnecessary pain (throat punching). I've written about similar things before when it comes to sticking it to the man, and I still stand by my reasoning. Imagination is for playing with, not forcing through a toothpaste tube. Seriously, writing is already pretty stressful, and if we have to exercise our abilities inside a scope outlined by nothing but nerves and intimidation, we won't get very far. And even if we do, we'll have to scream and claw the entire way.
In essence, I'm saying write what you'd want to read. If your utter weakness is OTP prompts from Tumblr, then write a billion, and make them as fluffy and romantically sickening as you desire. If you would stay up until 2 AM reading stories where the hero and villain become friends at the end, then craft those relationships in your own books. If you get morbidly giddy when the hero has to sacrifice him/herself for their friends, write the heck out of that. If you cry over science fiction for no other reason than space is just really, really cool, then toss your characters into deep space and force them to function there. I've done all these things at one point or another just because I wanted to. And you know what? I am deeply, profoundly, stupidly in love with writing.
Of course, there's the flip side, and I've written in detail about this, too. After the dust of the first draft has settled and it's had time to breathe, you'll come back and always cringe. As the number of drafts goes on, you'll find more and more problems to correct, and of course there'll be times when you scrap entire sections at a time. This is all part of the process. The reason I'm pushing so hard to write what you want is because without all the gushy, self-indulgent, fangirl stuff, you'll never write the dumb book in the first place. Which would you rather have? A stiff first draft with fewer grammar mistakes but no life, or a draft that needs more work but which you actually want to work on every day?
As always, I won't say every writer is the same. But I'll stand behind this argument until the day I die because when that day rolls around, I'd rather have a lot of books that I actually care about than one or two books that sound like somebody else wrote them. Give me mountains of drafts and ten million red pen marks, but writing what makes me happy is still worth it.