I came across that previous quote looking for this video, it’s a panel from this year’s Comic-Con about fantasy writing and world-building featuring GRRM, Joe Abercrombie, Diana Gabaldon, Lev Grossman, and Patrick Rothfuss.
It’s got some great insight into their respective worlds and processes, plenty of map talk, and some good book recommendations too, but running through a lot of their answers was the idea that you should write for yourself, you should do things because they’re what you’re interested in and what you enjoy, which is something that carries well beyond writing.
If you’re a geek for something, if that’s herbology, or the nature of the night sky, or plate tectonics, revel in your geekery, roll around in it, and make that a part of your world, because that will be really interesting to the people reading it because you’re interested in it. Whereas if you try to do something because you feel like you’re supposed to… I don’t think that’s the best way to really enjoy yourself and make a vibrant world.
– Patrick Rothfuss
The minute you start to write to some kind of imagined taste, some audience that you imagine is out there somewhere you’re doomed.
– Joe Abercrombie
GRRM also makes some comments about trying to hop between genres that are in vogue and (almost) all panelists talk about writing for themselves first and I think it applies to any creative endeavour. My current creative output is only marginally greater than zero but I definitely spend too much time worrying excessively about whether people will like something I make to the point where I don’t make it. I should worry about whether I like it.
I also learned that:
- Westeros started out as upside-down Ireland (the Vale is Munster).
- The Six Duchies is upside-down Alaska.
- Lancaster/York = Lannister/Stark (really can’t believe I missed this one, I even went into the novels knowing about the War of the Roses influence…)
The full panel is about 50 minutes and well worth it (I’ve watched/listened to it now three times already).