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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? How do you figure out what to write about? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
How do you decide what to write about? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach, still in pandemic mode.
I have a question from Bob Davis, a writer based in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Here’s what he’s asked by email…
“I would like to write but I never know what to write about. I’m a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I know a little bit about a lot of things but not enough to write intelligently about any of them. When I sit down to write, it seems that I just don’t have anything to say. Is there any help for someone like me?”
Thanks for your question, Bob. You know, I’m frequently asked by people — what to write about — and it always makes me wonder WHY anyone who feels this way actually want to write.
Writing is hard work and if you’re not clear as to WHY you want to do it, you’re going to have a hard time persuading yourself to sit at your desk.
As you know, I write about writing. I’m deeply motivated to communicate my ideas with others because it’s been my life’s work and I’m fascinated by it. Now I suggest that you, too, spend a little time exploring why you want to write.
Is it for fame? For money? Or do you simply enjoy the act of writing? Be very clear on your motivation before you start. If you’re going to write a book — or even just a blog — you’ll need to call upon your own motivation regularly. In fact, your motivation is precisely what will see you through any hard times you encounter.
To figure out your motivation, I suggest you do a mindmap. In the show-notes below, I provide a link to all the videos and posts about mindmapping on my website. Begin with a straightforward and open-ended question like, “WHY do I want to write?” and see what you discover. The answers may surprise you!
Once you’ve done that first mindmap, you can do another one to figure out WHAT you want to write about. But remember that your subject needs to flow out of — or match — your motivation. If, for example, your desire is to make money writing, the subjects that might work for you are much more limited than the ones that will work if you’re writing simply because you enjoy it.
But, before you do anything else, Bob, you really need to uncover your motivation. This is the question on which everything else hinges. Why do you feel this puzzling urge to write if you don’t have anything you want to communicate?
There MUST be a reason for this, and I think it’s well worth exploring.
Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from the great American actress who died far too young, Gilda Radner: “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
Bob, I sense a strong frustration in your question. And I share it. Why do you feel this strong urge to write if you really have nothing you want to communicate? Explore this question and I think you’ll be able to come up with an answer that will help you. And remind yourself that life is short, so ask yourself this question right away.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.