Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to Choose a Subject to Write about

I Don’t Know what to Write

Many new writers find that one of their biggest problems is choosing what to write about. There are several ways to overcome this and they all center around what you know. As you grow in skill and experience, it becomes easier to write on different subjects, but to begin with, it’s best to stick with topics that are closer to home.

What are Your Interests
Sit down and make a list of your interests. Include everything you can think of, even if you’ve never actually pursued it. Now make another list of five article titles to go with each interest. For example, if you are passionate about dogs, possible articles could include:

· Breeding Jack Russell Terriers
· How to Choose the Best Kennel for my Dog
· What should a Vet Check Include
· Common Illnesses in Dogs
· Exercise Routines for Large Dogs

Then make a list of resources that you could use to write an informative article about each of these. Think of every angle and you’ll be surprised at how many ideas come to mind. For the above topics, I thought of the following: libraries, kennel clubs, dog breeding associations, veterinarian offices, SPCA, dog agility classes, council operated dog parks, pet shops and pet food manufacturers.

What are Your Qualifications
What college courses, degrees, diplomas and training do you have? Even if it’s something you’ve never pursued a career in, you still have a solid foundation of knowledge in those areas. That knowledge can be the starting point for a whole array of features and articles. Let’s say you did a year-long catering course. Possible articles could include:

· Food Preparation and Safety
· Catering for Christmas
· What Vegetables Work Together
· Sweet and Savoury Sauces
· Baking the Perfect Cupcake

What are You Experienced in
People sometimes fall into a career and learn as they go, without the benefits of formal training. In many cases, job experience is just as important as a paper saying you can do it. The same applies with writing. If you know a subject, you can write on it. If you worked as a shop assistant for ten years, there is a wealth of information waiting to be drawn out of you. Think along the lines of:

· Customer Service with a Smile
· How to Recognize a Potential Shoplifter
· Working in the World of Retail
· Is the Customer Always Right
· Maintaining Stock Levels

Possible Subjects
There are hundreds of publications and websites that accept freelance work. Some are highly specialized and others cover a wide range of subject matter. Here is a list of possible topics to kick start your creativity:

· Allergies
· Animals
· Advertising and Marketing
· Architecture and Building
· Armed Services
· Art, Music and Entertainment
· Boating
· Business
· Cars
· Childcare
· Christianity
· Computers
· Education
· Environment
· Farming
· Food
· Health
· History and Genealogy
· Home and Garden
· Lifestyle
· Property
· Science
· Senior Citizens
· Sport
· Travel and Tourism
· Weddings
· Women’s Interests
· Young People

This is just a brief overview of some topics of interest. Each can be subdivided into dozens of other categories. The main thing is to be aware that there’s a huge market out there and plenty of writers are needed to produce the words. Make a list of subjects you can write about and next week we’ll look at how to find the correct market for them. I’ll be including lots of links to get you going, so be sure to come back for a look.

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Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.


Stephanie Craig said...

You have some great ideas on how to get creative. The most I have done was to sit down with a blank sheet a paper and write down any article idea that comes into my head. Your advice goes beyond that, and it will help me when I have no idea what to write about.

Debbie Roome said...

Thanks, Stephanie. I still get stuck sometimes and have to follow my own advice.

Amanda said...

This article was really helpful! I love to write and I often get a block as to what topic to write about. This will also give me some new things to blog about! Thank you!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

definitely good advice. thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.


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