There it is. Right there on the schedule. Can’t put it off any longer. A fresh post or article is due, and you haven’t a clue what you are going to write. No worries. You can generate a list of topics that will keep you busy for weeks, if not months. All you have to do is hunt. Here’s how it works:
- Grab a pad and pen. You will need them to record the scores of interesting topics you will identify within the next 60 minutes or so.
- Look around your office and collect every book or publication you have read, or plan to read, and sort them into piles according to subject matter.
- Power up your iPad, Kindle or Nook and note titles you’ve downloaded.
- Turn on your computer or laptop and check browser history and bookmarks; then do the same thing you did with your books and magazines. Sort URLs into subject folders on your desktop, or print out the pages and add them to the appropriate piles.
- Check file cabinets, and any piles of papers you have lying around. Retrieve articles you have written (published, submitted or in progress), as well as those you kept that were written by others. If printed, physically add them to the subject piles. If in digital format, drag them into the subject folders on your desktop.
- Now, on the pad, write down the names you assigned your subject piles and folders. Rank them according to how much information or good “stuff” is in each, or that you refer to the most, or both. The top two or three on that list represent the subjects a) you know the most about, and b) you are most interested in.
A subject hunt gives you an opportunity to take an objective look at what you access on a regular basis, what you enjoy learning or reading about, and where your brain likes to spend its’ free time. It also tells you what you are ready – right now – to write about intelligently, with commitment, and with zeal. It also tells you that there are likely to be other people interested in the exact same subject matter, because there are already a number of books, periodicals and web pages covering those topics. You are almost ready to bang out a great article.
But Don’t Start Writing Yet
Now that you have identified a solid list of topics that you are knowledgeable about, have interest in, and could write about in your sleep, should you just choose one and write? No. Not immediately. First determine if your intended audience will be as enthralled as you with the subject matter. To find out, you will need to do a bit of digging:
- Use Google.com and Bing.com to see how many other people in your niche market are writing about your subject ideas
- Visit a bookstore, and physically browse its shelves for titles and subjects that would appeal to your audience
- Use keyword tools like Google Adwords to find the words or phrases that are reaching people searching for what you offer
Now check this research against your list, select your topic, and write. Trust me, you will be finished in no time.
| Excerpted from A Writer’s Guide to Fame and Fortune.