“I Don’t Know What to Write About.” Really?

The same way not enough time and lack of motivation are excuses, not “knowing” what to write about is, too.

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“I want to write something, but I don’t know what to write about.”

Are you sure about that?

This, in reality, is just another excuse for not writing. It may not seem like it, but anything that keeps you from writing, when you’re fully capable of sitting down in front of a computer and typing words, is technically considered an excuse. So the same way not enough time and lack of motivation are excuses, not “knowing” what to write about is, too.

Why is it an excuse? And what can you do about it?

Write whatever is on your mind

You know what to write about already, because you’re a human being. You have thoughts, you read, you talk with people, you watch videos online, you exist in the world and interact with it. I didn’t start “writing” until I’d been keeping a diary for awhile. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about your own thoughts and opinions or a story based on something you overheard.

The first step to “being a writer” is to sit down and write something. If you haven’t written anything because you don’t know what to write about, your problem actually stems from the fact that you haven’t taken the initiative to sit down and do something with your thoughts and ideas.

Writing doesn’t really have rules

At least, in the sense that a person can sit down and literally write about anything they want to. Anything.  It doesn’t matter if it’s been done before, it doesn’t matter if it’s short or long or there’s stellar character development. Every writer starts out writing virtually unpublishable content. That’s normal. If you never start writing, if you never stop worrying about whether or not you’re “doing it right,” you’ll improve over time. You’ll be just fine.

Write about not knowing what to write about

Here’s how to eliminate this excuse from your life: literally, just write. It might seem more complicated than that, but it really isn’t!! Get rid of your distractions, prepare to write something you won’t want anyone else to ever see, and just go. Just start. People hate when I give this advice. Why? Because they don’t want to admit that the problem is … them! Nothing personal, but you’re the only one who can make yourself write.

What’s stopping you? Work through those things, the real things, not the excuses you dish out in place of them, and use writing as a tool for getting out all your ideas and frustrations and disappointments and triumphs. You DO know what to write about. You might be afraid or embarrassed or you’re just a procrastinator (I understand, there’s no shame in that).

GET WRITING ANYWAY! At first, yeah, it’s probably going to be pretty bad. One of these days I need to dig out something I wrote in middle school and show it to you guys. EVERYONE STARTS THERE! The question is, are you going to drag yourself over that hurdle, and the next one, and the next one, until you can actually write something other people will want to read?

No more excuses. You DO, you CAN, you WILL. Ready, set, WRITE!

Image courtesy of iDigitalTimes.

How to Write About Anything, Even When You’re Not an Expert

You don’t have to be an expert to write about something. Actually, most of the time, you probably won’t be.

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It doesn’t matter what “kind” of writing you’re doing. You could be writing a novel or working on a news story, due in less than two hours (yes, this happens). Good writers are versatile. They don’t just stick to writing about one subject. They write about many different things, on purpose.

You don’t have to be an expert to write about something. Actually, most of the time, you probably won’t be. That doesn’t mean you have to keep yourself locked in a box. Do these three things, and you’ll be just fine.

Say, “Yes, I’ll be happy to write about that thing I’ve never heard of.”

As a young writer (and by “young,” we mean inexperienced, probably still writing for free, desperate for a byline already), you have two choices: (1) write about only one thing, ever, probably get really good at writing about that one thing, and find yourself with very limited career and partnership opportunities, or (2) get used to writing about things you know nothing about, because along the way, you will end up building a portfolio versatile enough that you’ll have to turn down writing opportunities instead of begging for them.

Never say, “I don’t know anything about that. I can’t write 600 words about it.” Actually, you can. And you should. You’re going to be asked, even expected, to write on topics you’re less familiar with. Honestly? Backing out because you don’t feel like doing the research is just lazy. Which brings us to our second point, which hopefully doesn’t surprise you too much.

Spend more time researching than you do writing

The quickest way to completely sabotage your own credibility as a writer is to say you will write about a topic you are not familiar with without the intention of putting in the time and effort it’s going to require to get it all right the first time.

Once you know the facts (and please … know the facts), the rest is simple. Putting facts into your own words and making solid, well-written arguments based on those facts won’t take you long at all. Always expect to spend more time on this initial step than you do on the rest of the process.

Remember: you are a writer … not an expert

You can literally write about anything you want, and stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone is a good thing. If you do, though, there is a right and wrong way to do it. And if you start calling yourself an expert on something just because you’ve written a few blog posts about it, that’s when it becomes a problem.

Don’t call yourself an expert when you’re not. There are too many of these people polluting the internet already. Don’t be one of them. Use your writing powers for good.

Anyone can write on any topic they want, but unless you have a legitimate degree, license, certification or some other reason to call yourself an expert, don’t. Please. I’ve written about fashion, dating, the Syrian refugee crisis … I am not an expert on any of these things just because I have written about them. That is why facts and research are as important as we say they are.

You can write about anything. Never hold yourself back. Being able to write about different subjects makes your stories and writing in general more interesting. Expand your horizons. Just be cautious when you do. Please and thank you.

Image courtesy of pexels.com.