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When you don’t know what to write about first

FREE QUIZ: Which "Publishing Path" Is Right For Your Book?

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Blog post-03
When you have so many fantastic ideas to write about, how do you choose one writing topic? If your brain is like mine, you don’t have any problem coming up with ideas. I have anywhere from 5-15 ideas that I would love to write about, but my perpetual question is: What to write about first?

I’d like to share an exercise with you that has worked really well for me. It’s quick and brings you confident clarity in a matter of hours, so you can stop wasting time thinking about all your possible topics and start writing on one of them.

1. Pick 3 or 4 topics that you’re most interested in. Write out a brief description of each topic in a sentence or so, just to remind you later.

2. Pull out your timer. (If you’ve followed me for a while, you know where this is going. ;) Set the timer for 20 minutes. Concentrate on one topic, read that descriptive sentence you jotted down earlier, and just start writing about it. Write to yourself, ask yourself questions, answer the questions, and use the time to explore the topic.

The key to this sort of free writing exercise is to write or type as fast as your fingers will move. I’ve written a more extensive post about free writing and why it works so well, but the short answer is that when you are typing faster than your are thinking, you push past the judgmental editor part of your brain and access the expansive creative part of your brain. So, for 20 minutes, you will type continuously about the topic, as fast as you can, without stopping, even if you type “umm umm umm” ten times in a row. You can also start typing questions to yourself:

  • “Why is this topic important to me?”
  • “Why do I need to write about this now, not later?”
  • “What could writing about this topic do for my life?”

Type questions to yourself and answer them, even if the answers don’t really make sense. Just let the responses flow.

3. When the timer rings, stop and check in with your emotions. Are you feeling energized? On fire? Expansive? Those would be indications that you should seriously consider writing on this topic first. Or are you feeling scared? Tense? Tight? Those would indicate that you should put this topic on the back burner for now. You can always try it again later.

4. Take a break (at least 30-45 minutes) and repeat with the other 2 to 3 topics on your list. Check in with yourself emotionally after each 20-minute free writing period.

Ultimately, you will want to follow your energy. You can logic your way into any topic and come up with a list of a hundred reasons why one topic is better than the others – more strategic, more profitable, more marketable, yada yada.

But, the truth is, you can find a way to build a readership, business, and niche around any topic. You can’t find a way to create energy and passion around a topic, though. Always follow your energy.

After this exercise, you should have a lot of clarity after you free write on all your topics. Heck, you might even have a new, better topic.

What about you? What topics are you considering writing about?

Leave a comment below, and let me know what ideas are floating around in your head.

FREE QUIZ: Which "Publishing Path" Is Right For Your Book?

There are four different publishing paths for the modern author.
Do you know which is right for your book?

TAKE THE QUIZ