BLOGGING GUIDES — PICKING A TOPIC
The Perfect Topic for Your Next Story
7 Steps to choose that elusive topic for your next piece of writing
- What’s your expertise?
The most successful writers on Medium or in general the most successful bloggers are usually those who are experts in a certain field, and they write to share that knowledge with others. There is a reason why all sorts of investing advice sells better when it starts with the words “Warren Buffet” and you’re much likely to read about politics from Hillary Clinton than you are from any other writer claiming to know enough about politics. But you don’t have to have a degree in your area of expertise or household fame to be a legitimate expert — your content will speak for itself. You can write about fitness, parenting, career advice, life lessons, art, cooking, or just about anything that will interest a set of readers.
So find that expertise, that niche, and if you don’t have one, build one over time.
- Don’t have an expertise? Pick a topic of current relevance.
Have a look at the most read articles on Medium over the past few months, and a surprisingly high number of them will be centered around COVID-19, working from home, making money without a regular job, racism and diversity — everything pertaining to the current affairs of the world. People like to read more about what affects them the most in the current moment.
Pick a broad current theme, and give your own spin, your unique perspective, and give your readers a fresh take on a known topic.
Here is a great example of such an article that provides a very unique take on the current pandemic through a relatable life lens.
- Too mainstream and lacks uniqueness? Write about yourself.
The best story you could ever tell is invariably your own. We often try to write things from a reader’s perspective, but stories that have most impact are the ones that the writer has truly lived through. Life is mostly about experiences, and there are only so many kind of experiences out there. The only difference in one person’s experience vs. another’s is their own feelings through it and the learnings from it. And so, while you may think that no one wants to hear about your life story, your readers will surely see a bit of themselves in parts of it which will make it relatable.
- None of this seems to work for you? How about some fiction?
We all love a good storyteller. If you’re not feeling inspired enough to write on any of the above topics, forget about what people want to read about, and start writing about an imaginary world of your own creation. Agatha Christie is the highest selling author of all time — and she doesn’t provide life lessons or imparts any form of knowledge — she writes pure fiction and of a very specific kind too. Go ahead and experiment, find your own genre whether it is thrillers, romance, crime, drama, or any other. Writing fiction can be daunting but it is often a fun thing to try your hand at.
- Maybe stories are just not your cup of tea. Try the world of poetry.
I strongly believe that there is a hidden poet in each one of us. Each thought in our head has the power to transform into a song of its own if we let these thoughts flow into the medium of words. And trust me you don’t need to train to be a poet, nor do you necessarily have to be born as one. Poetry is for all of us — so just pick a random thought and weave it into a painting of words. And when you’ve written your first poem, the sense of pride is absolutely worth the effort. If a full-fledged poem is a tall order, take a shot at a “haiku”- something I got introduced to thanks to Medium.
- No inspiration still? Break the inertia by responding to a story.
Your first few words are often the hardest to write and once you’re able to break that inertia, it is truly amazing how words then start to flow. So to get that momentum going, read, read and read, and if you find a story that you truly relate to, respond to it with a thoughtful comment. While responses on Medium are called “stories”, they’re really just responses or comments but they surely help in getting those words flowing and are a great start to putting your thoughts down. Another way of finding inspiration is responding to a challenge. A popular challenge on Medium currently is the “Never-Ending Poem”, or try an Abecedarian if you will. B. A. Cumberlidge. is great at creating and responding to some of the most interesting writing challenges and prompts.
- If you can’t write, Curate.
Curation on Medium will often take your mind to the ultimate challenge of being “curated” by Medium editors, but curation is really for everyone. A quick google search will give you the definition of curation as the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.
So go ahead, do just that. In our busy lives, we don’t always have the time to research and go through endless content to find interesting and substantial pieces. Help others do just that. Curate a list of interesting articles you’ve read, or the best quotes you have come across, or the summer reading or movie list — this may not be “original content” but it surely is just as useful.
I hope within all these steps at some point you will find the motivation for your next story — and when you do, I’d surely love to read it!