The hardest part of writing anything, especially personal work, is figuring out what to write about. There’s an infinite amount of things to write about, but there’s only a finite amount of time to write, so choosing is an impossible task.
Here are some tips to figure out what to write about next time you sit down with the itch to type or write away:
- Free write. Grab a piece of paper or pull up a blank document and simply start writing words and phrases going through your mind. Don’t worry about cleanliness or neatness; thoughts are always messy, so your page showing a little sloppiness is good. See if there are any themes or words that stick out; maybe there are a few words you didn’t even know you were thinking about. The whole point is to empty out your mind onto a tangible page to sift through the ideas. Combine thoughts, try out a few words together, and see where it goes.
- Keep a journal or running list. When I used to write personal fiction the most, I kept a running list on my cellphone of everything that either interested me or made me feel something, anything, as soon as it happened. I never had to try to remember a thousand things when I sat down to write at the end of the week; I simply opened up my notes app and had my free writing already done for me. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a substitute for the aforementioned free writing. Whatever works best for you is what you ought to do.
- Pick something you are passionate about. It is easy to think “hey, I want to write like John Green,” or whoever, and surely John Green had his influences, but he is beloved because he is who he is. Be yourself, and write about what makes you feel. So many of the world’s greatest masterpieces were original ideas that people initially thought would seem crazy, and they probably were crazy ideas, but that was what made them brilliant. A common adage says “be yourself, you’re the one that knows how to be you best.” I feel that’s one of the most important parts of writing, and once you learn to have your own voice in your writing, every door is open to you.
With some free time hopefully around the corner for many of us with the holiday break and snow days ahead, try out some of these tips and see if your writing improves. Find what works for you, but never, ever stop writing.
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