"If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?"
You know, that whole "don't follow the crowd if the crowd is stupid" adage your mother gave you when growing up... and you may have spouted it to your own kids now.
And it's smart too. Kinda. Most of the time.
Here is the thing, though. Let's say... the bridge was on fire. And the only way to survive was to jump in the water. All your friends are jumping in...
Then the answer is, "Yes, Mom... I WOULD jump off that bridge."
And there may be those dare-devils out there that have a bungee-cord attached to them that do it for the thrill. Guess there are various opinions on the wiseness of such a sport!
What does bridge jumping have to do with writing, you ask?
Well... there are a lot of changes going on in the publishing industry lately. Self-pub, epub, small press, no advance, agent-or-no-agent.... lots of people have some very STRONG opinions one way or another.
Not to mention genre fads that come and go like vampires, epics, Amish romance and 50 shades crap *ahem*.
Do we follow the crowd, or do we pave our own path? Is doing something "different" the equivalent of saving ourselves or jumping off a bridge and going splat?
Honestly, I'm a firm believer that there are no right or wrong answers... not earthly answers anyway.
I don't believe just following a crowd (or in writing speak, "trends") is the way to go... for the very same reason your momma warned you against it. Following a crowd just means that you have a lot of company in whatever you are doing... not necessarily that you are doing the RIGHT thing.
But if the crowd is doing something, it's prudent to know about it and find out why. Is it something you want to follow? Is it where God is leading you? Is it SMART? Because knowledge is POWER in pretty much all facets of business, including the writing one.
Another fun note.... the most successful people are on the FRONT END of that crowd... but that involves a bit of risk. If you are a path paver... then you start down a path that is sparsely populated. YOU decide to jump off a bridge when no one else is. This involves a great deal of risk 'cause you might fall flat on your face.
Or you could jump right into your awesome destiny that God has for you.
In conclusion... there is no right or wrong answer. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Sometimes you run the opposite direction. But your path is just that, YOUR OWN... and you need to make smart decisions at each step.
One word of caution: Just because YOU chose a certain path, doesn't mean it is right for others. There seems to be a lot of criticism in ALL directions these days, and it makes me sad. Especially as Christians, let's lift each other up, not tear each other down.
Question: Would call yourself a path paver or a "follow the leader" bridge jumper? Or do you just cling the bridge with all your might?