Write What You Know
One afternoon last week as I was cleaning the kitchen, I overheard my two-year-old son singing and strumming the guitar. He was singing a little song he had just made up. It went something like this: “play mommy’s phone, watch TV, sit on couch, play mommy’s phone, watch TV.”
The words to his song came so naturally to him — he loves to watch TV and play on my phone, so those are the first words that came to his mind. It’s not like he sat down in front of the guitar and said, “I need to sing about something deep and meaningful, something inspirational and hopeful.” He sang about what he knew, and through that process, he just happened to inspire someone: me.
I’ve been a little frustrated lately trying to figure out what I want to write about. I feel like my writing needs to have a focus or a “theme.” A central idea that people can wrap their minds (and hearts) around.
I’ve been writing and blogging for almost three years now. I started my blog, A Positive Curl, with a specific purpose in mind: to encourage others to celebrate who they are. It was a wonderful topic that I happily wrote about for the first full year, but then after that, the topic got a little old for me. I had encouraged, shared and celebrated as much as I could and I was ready to move on, but I didn’t know where to move on to.
After that first year, I wrote very sparingly. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, so I just wrote about the things that inspired me or moved me in some way. It was hard to keep this up though because I felt like it wasn’t in line with my blog’s original theme.
If you go to my blog, you’ll see the tag line: celebrating the kinks in life. The “kinks” in our lives are those things about ourselves that we don’t like or wish we could change. I loved writing on this topic, and I still believe it’s worth celebrating our kinks, I just don’t want to write about it anymore.
Every time I wrote about something that wasn’t related to that topic and posted it on my blog, it felt odd to me, like it didn’t belong on that space.
It makes me sad though because I do love that space. It’s the second blog I started but it’s the first real blog that I’ve ever had, so it’s difficult for me to let it go.
I considered just doing a physical update to the blog — getting rid of the tag line and maybe changing the color scheme. And then I could relaunch my blog with a new look and feel, but the question still remains…
What in the world will I even write about?
Maybe I don’t need a specific focus, but I think that I do because the successful writers and bloggers that I know are successful in part because they have a specific theme that they write about. All of their content, no matter how varied it may be, still points back to their one central theme. If I get rid of my tag line — celebrating the kinks in life — what is going to be my central theme?
I had been stuck on this particular question for months now…until I heard my son playing the guitar and singing his song that day: “play mommy’s phone, watch TV, sit on couch, play mommy’s phone, watch TV.”
His innocent little tune struck a chord within me. All of a sudden, I figured out what I am going to write about:
I’m going to write about what I know.
Right now, I’m knee-deep in being a mom, working on my career and on my creative hobbies that I would like to turn into businesses someday. I’m also grappling with faith and fear and I’m working on deepening my relationship with God. Those are the things that both inspire me and challenge me. Those are the things that I’m living with and dealing with right now at this very moment, and that is what I’m going to write about.
A part of me feels like that may not be good enough though, like writing about motherhood and creativity and faith and fear may not be a central of enough “theme” to make a connection with people and ultimately bring me great success (you know, that seemingly shallow but often sought after kind of “success” that includes having a big number fans, big book deals that eventually lead to big book tours, and of course big big money).
What I learned watching and listening to my two-year-old that day is that I have to let go of any hopeful or expected outcomes and write what feels comfortable and natural to me at this moment. Who knows, maybe as I keep writing, a more central theme will emerge. Or maybe the varied themes of faith and creativity and motherhood will all play nicely together and make sense to someone else besides me. But I won’t know until I write.