What do you enjoy reading about?
In terms of subject matter, format, style, medium — everyone reads differently about different things.
Some of the best writing comes from people who loosely model their work after the reading material they love the most. Or the style or tone of writing that makes them feel motivated.
This is something many aspiring writers don’t consider when trying to build an audience, especially online.
They do what they’re supposed to do and focus on deciding what their audience will like best/is most likely to click on.
But when you’re feeling blocked — it happens — sometimes it helps to flip things around. To ask yourself, “If I were scrolling through Facebook right now, what would I really enjoy reading in this moment?”
You’ll likely come up with at least part of an idea that you can turn into something worthwhile.
So the next time you’re feeling stuck — that “I don’t know what I want to write about today” dilemma you might be familiar with — shift your focus from what your audience probably wants to read to what YOU might click on right now.
It’s just a different way of deciding the kind of content you want to produce in the short-term (e.g., at 8 a.m. on a Monday when you’d rather be doing anything but this because your coffee maker broke again and life is temporarily terrible). It’s not a long-term strategy — your audience comes to you to read what they enjoy, after all.
But you have to get something out of it, too. Especially on a rough day.
To be clear, I’m not saying you should never — or will never have to — write things you aren’t fully invested in. The company I work for makes money based on how many pageviews and sessions my (and other writers’) articles get. That often means I have to write on subjects I’d rather not, because those are the things people are more likely to want to read.
That’s just how things are — you learn to deal.
And in my case, I deal by using my “free” time to write these blog posts, and other things I enjoy writing. It’s a balance between what you have to write and what you want to create. It’s part of building up a career as a professional writer. You somehow get used to fitting it all together, to making it work, to staying happy even when you have to write another article about Meghan Markle for some reason.
You can care very much about what your audience wants/needs and still make room for writing you find fun and enjoyable. You almost have to. The fun stuff reminds you why you keep writing the less fun stuff when it doesn’t seem worth it.
It’s always worth it. You just have to make the most of it as best you can.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.