What Do I Write About?
I firmly believe that the use of fancy French phrases (and also alliteration) makes one an excellent writer.
Oh, I kid.
But if you don’t know who you are, or what you want, or what you’re good at. It’s okay. You can find out with thinking and hard work.
So, I’d like to propose a few exercises to get you thinking about your purpose or your raison d’etre.
If you spend ten minutes a day thinking or writing on any of these, you might discover something about yourself. (But I can’t promise a miracle. ) Admittedly, these exercises are all very similar, but perhaps it will get you thinking, seeing yourself as a success or awaken a new idea.
1. Look at your personal library. Which books do you collect, love to read, quote from or enjoy the prose? If you want to go so far, count the fiction and non-fiction titles, see which genre has the most in it. This might be a clue to what you should be writing.
2. If you were at a party, and someone started talking to you, and you started talking, and talking, and talking and the other party-goer said, “Whoa! You sure know a lot about this!” What would the subject or subjects be?
3. Pretend that you were asked to be on Ellen to discuss your most recent book. Picture yourself on the couch, smiling, (enjoying a glamorous new hairdo and outfit) and the entire audience is enraptured . . . . what kind of questions are you asked?
4. Your blog exceeds 1,000 hits a day. Why? You have an assistant to read all the comments. The most common one from your readers says something like, “I am so glad I learned about . . . I never would have thought about . . . if you hadn’t written about . . . . . ” You are elated. What subject are they talking about?
5. You read a book that got you really mad. The author’s research is shoddy, the outline is illogical and the analysis is misguided and inconclusive. You rant about this for days, even looking things up to disprove this writer. What is it that you are researching? How do you write your rebuttal?
6. You read a dull magazine article. You’re bothered about the way the writer put the information together. You think the whole piece is dull and uninspired. Do you re-write the article in your head? What is the article, and in what publication is it in?
7. Finish this sentence, “I think that the biggest problem with my favorite genre of fiction is when the author isn’t . . . ” If your finished answer is more than three sentences long, you might be a fresh new voice in that genre.
8. You know that “dinner party” question, where you are asked which four people you would invite to a dinner party? Answer that question, but the conditions are that they have to be writers, living and they all must love your work. Who are they?
9. You have a time machine that takes you back to high school English class. Your favorite teacher tells you that your entire grade is based on one paper, anything you want, as long as it’s 100 pages. You are elated about the subject matter, work all year and turn it in on time, getting an A. What is it?
10. Your local librarian is delighted your first work is published. She asks you to come for a “Meet The Author” night, and in her library, your book is between the works of two well-known authors. What is your book about? What are the interests of the people who attend? On what shelf, in what section is your book, and who are the writers have the books around yours?
I know that when I start thinking about what I want to be known for, my vision seems to be clearer. So, try it. If it doesn’t work, or you’re still not clear, ask someone close to you, who knows you well. They might see an expert or a novelist or a poet in you that you don’t yet see.
And once you’ve done all this, WRITE! For heaven’s sake, write and don’t stop!
How have you found your purpose for writing?