You live in today’s world. You must write for the time in which you live. It doesn’t matter if your writing is as exquisite as Bronte or Austen or any of the past brilliant writers if the times in which you live don’t support writing stories like theirs.
If you want to be a professional writer, write for your peers. That doesn’t mean to dumb it down, but it does mean to not be intellectually snobbish and disdain the common reader. Most of those we revere today as renowned authors were considered genre authors in their day.
I have few favorites among today’s so-called literary authors because most of them don’t know how to plot worth a darn. In fact, most literary novels really don't have plots per se. Too many are all flash and no substance loaded with beautiful, stand-alone sparkling sentences that don't contribute to the forward motion a novel should possess.
You must possess the narrative skills that enable you to craft a well written piece of fiction. Today, fiction of every genre is vibrant and exciting, with excellent characterization. Most of today’s best writers work in genre, not the so-called literary fiction.
Find your identity as a writer. Discover the stories you want to tell, and find a niche that allows you to tell those stories. That’s writing on your own terms.
Path To Discovery
One way to discover yourself is to simply write. One of my favorite literary authors (Yes, I do have some.) is Larry Brown. He and bestseller thriller author Dean Koontz both said virtually the same thing: "You must write X number of words before you’ll ever write anything worth publishing."
I believe that. The addendum to that theory is that no one knows what X is because it’s different for every writer.
You must get started writing. If the idea of writing a novel intimidates you, begin with a smaller step toward your goal. Write a blog even if you're a generalist with no idea of the niche in which your blog will fit. Being a generalist doesn't have to be a problem.
Do a little thinking with a pad and paper and brainstorm a list of things that interest you. Then narrow it down to 7 things that interest you enough that you’d like to write about them frequently, as in, 7 days a week. Write your blog--your work in progress--faithfully and consistently, and you'll establish the work discipline needed to write longer works.
Practice makes perfect or, at least, better, even when it comes to writing.