Deciding the topic to write about and the audience to write for is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. And usually it’s one of the first blocks you experience when starting to write.
A proper writing habit means to be able to write, even if you don’t feel like writing at a moment. Regardless of the circumstances we want to make it a repetitive task. Thus, we need to learn to go through this block —the not knowing what to write about, by exercising few seemingly invisible muscles.
To do so we start thinking about writing as a multi-layered relationship between you and yourself, the paper and the ideas or the screen and your thoughts.
We will define the topics that we can write about in three categories: intimate, open and public.
Intimate Topics 🔗
It’s perfectly fine if you come up with an idea to write about, but you don’t feel like sharing it with the others. Writing can a be completely intimate process. It enables us to get into thoughts-harvesting without the need to make it public. You can think of the process of writing as something that’s affecting only you.
In that context, these intimate topics would be something that only you know about. The first candidate from the series of intimate topics is journaling. Description of the day, expressing a feeling(s) of that day, writing about personal learnings and events that made the day, etc.
If broader journal-writing is not an option you can always choose writing about your day. How was your day? Did you meet anyone? You can scale-down even more. If describing your day is not an option, you can write about a thing you learned.
After all, if none of these is an option, simply writing the date and a name of an emotion that marks that day would be enough. Even writing “29/07/2022 - Happy” is more acceptable than not writing anything at all.
Be creative and try to keep focused on something that is very easy to define, like a feeling or a sensation. If writing one word is not hard, you can always go further and write a sentence.
Another intimate topic can be a letter to address a trauma from your life. A certain event that makes you feel sad or anxious when you think about it. This is something that works fine as a writing therapy as it goes deeper in your psyche and materializes it. Therapists often recommend this form of writing when they are dealing with patients that go through grief. They’d advice to write a letter addressed to the passed away person to express the feeling that their death had caused.
Of course, things can be definitely more cheerful than this so you can choose a writing form that describes a love adventure, a crush you have or even a sexual fantasy of yours.
In this form of writing it’s just you and the reader. And the reader is you.
Open Topics 🔗
A bit broader than the intimate form is the open form of writing. An open topic is something that you dedicate to a small audience, for which you can decide on its availability at any time. You want to have strong control over who can access it and in what way. A writing that qualifies as an open topic is not something you’d usually put on your blog. That belongs more to the public writing.
Think of an open topic writing as something that is accessible through a privately shared URL that you send to a specific person or group of people. At any time you are able to change the sharing settings and make it inaccessible. The control is in your hands.
Examples for this type of writing could be: writing a cover letter that you want to share only with the relevant people, a corporate document that you want to share with your team but not the entire company. One of the best examples of an open topic writing is an atomic essay that you want to share with your social network only.
Often the content that falls within this category is not easily indexable by search engines, and by that cannot be found by googling.
You write an open topic content with a broader audience for which you care the most about.
Public Topics 🔗
A public topic can be anything that you won’t mind if it gets published in the most locally circulated newspaper. This is a category that can be as free-style as you want, but also one of the most responsible form of writing. We need to make sure that we address the points clearly and concisely so that it’s understandable by the bigger part of your audience.
An example of a public topic writing could be a tutorial on how to do something (cooking, tech, a hobby in particular), or an article based on a learning process you’ve been through (e.g. “How I formed my writing habit”). The most popular form of public topics these days are the build in public articles in which indie builders are sharing a personal experience on a topic that could help others learn faster (e.g. marketing, SEO, technical implementation, etc).
One characteristic of a public topic content is that once it gets published, it gets difficult to control its access. Think about a post on Reddit for which you later change your mind and want to delete it. By that time the 100s bots on Reddit have already archived it and most probably created a screenshots from it. As they say, once the content gets uploaded, it never gets removed.
You can write about anything. Literally anything. There is no such a mechanism that will successfully motivate you to write every time you want to write. Just like with anything else exposure is the key, and exercising will push you to the exposure zone.
The point is to write, regardless how bad, difficult or challenging is at times.