It sounds like insanity doesn’t it? Why would you write something that you know isn’t going to sell? Before you tune me out as having lost my mind, let me explain.
Every editor, agent and writer (myself included) has a list of story ideas that they tell you never to write. Many of them are overused to the point of cliché. Some appear constantly in front of them, but are almost never executed well. There also exist a few that are just never good stories for sale, such as non-stories where nothing happens. These lists exist for a good reason.
But then there is the story in the back of your head. It nags at you, demanding to be written. You feel like you could do it justice. Logic tells you it isn’t going to be something you can send out, but it won’t go away. So you get stuck with your creative side focused on something you can’t use instead of working on a paying story. This is where that crazy talk starts to come in; write the story.
That’s right. It doesn’t pay, write it anyway. Post it on your blog or somewhere else if you like. Maybe it really is a good story and well written. Let yourself do the same thing others before you have done. Retread ground covered by people held on pedestals. Maybe you succeed, maybe you fail. Either way, you have written it.
The benefits should be obvious. First, you have written that cliché and can now look at where you stand compared to people whose cliché gets held up as the gold standard. If you did well, it shows your caliber and if you didn’t hold up, it points out clearly where you might need to improve. Here is the best part. Having gotten it out of your system, you never have to fear that unsellable story again. When you go to write something new, you’ve already covered that ground and it is much easier to look in other directions.
Sure, you aren’t sending it to editors, but every word you write brings you closer to honing your skills to perfection. Not every gain in this world must be monetary after all! So go write that story you know no one is going to ask for and have fun. You are beholden only unto yourself, who should of course be your harshest critic. Do your best and grow from it.