Dear Writer: How To Find A Topic To Write

"The most difficult and complicated part of the writing process is the beginning."
 - A. B. Yehoshua

A lot of people want to write, but often have a problem getting started with an idea. Coming up with an idea is fairly easy, but figuring out if that idea is worth something to someone else is the hard part, because most people, including myself, stop themselves before they even write a word and discard an idea or a topic thinking it’s worthless.

Dear writer, don’t worry about the worth of the topic. Get past the idea that it might be worthless and write about it anyway. This will give you a few things to think about:

  1. You gain more experience every time you write something, no matter how relevant or silly it might seem to you at the time.
  2. You could gain insight on how to approach another topic that does have more value, or more details, simply because you’ve written the “fluff” out of your system.
  3. You can always come back to the idea and make it better, expand on it, and grow it into something that has more value than it previously did.

Here are a few ideas on how to come up with topics:

  1. Keep a notebook. When you think of something, write the idea or title for the idea in the notebook. At the end of the day, transfer them to an electronic “notebook” so that you can access them whenever.
  2. Use mind maps to list out ideas around a main umbrella topic like “pies,” or “testing,” or “carrots.” You’ll be surprised how fast you can come up with different ways to approach a broad subject once you get started.
  3. Venn diagrams are pretty useful as well. Play with ideas to see where the intersections are and figure out what topics might be of interest.
  4. With topic in mind, open a blank doc and start writing. Stop writing when the words stop coming to mind. Save the docs somewhere you can get back to them easily.

Use any method to get started. Keep going. I have ideas all over the place. I don’t want to slow down to write something in some moments, but I don’t want an idea that could turn into something great to escape into nothingness. Ideas, even wacky ones, are important. Find your combination of how you generate ideas and run with it.


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