All this is important but let's not lose sight of why most of us write in the first place. I think writers write for much the same reason as readers read. A reader picks up a book, and sticks with it, in order to escape to that world for a while. A writer writes in order to create that world.
Writers are generally imaginative people and we like to escape for a while into the worlds we created, too! Given the hundreds of hours it takes to write a novel, it had better be a world that captures our heart. Writing the book of your heart doesn't mean abandoning marketing concerns and the rest of it, but it does require some emotional investment—it requires heart.
So don't let anyone get away with asking, incredulously, You're writing about WHAT?
Yes, I'm writing about THAT!
As the process continues (hundreds of hours, remember), the reason you started may not be the reason you continue—just as long as you don't lose heart. I started the Wynter Wild series purely as a heartfelt writing exercise, for my eyes only. A few ideas had been lingering in various corners of my imagination for years: Life in a cult; life after a cult. Being in a band; the rewards and tribulations of a sibling band. Connecting with long-lost family; discarding and being discarded by family. Initially, I had several unconnected partially written stories and a bunch of notes and research. I didn't think about turning it into a novel because I was so close to it, I didn't think it meant anything outside of my mind/heart.
My favorite thing when I start a new book is to mash together things that don't belong together and see what happens. Different combinations generate new ideas and directions. I figured out how to do this with all those heartfelt bits and pieces, and the Wynter Wild series got underway. You can read the first few chapters on Wattpad.
What's the heart of your story? Mine is about a girl with an unconventional background searching for love and finding it in an unconventional family. This family connects through music but music is merely the backdrop, as are the igloos, the sci-fi movies, and even the cult where she was born.
I love hearing from you — fellow writers and readers. What's the book of your heart?