Brainstorming before you begin writing
If you are sitting at your computer staring at a blank page, it can feel tempting to think about your topic some more and return later. Many of us who write have done just that, and for many of us it simply means that we never really get started. The first step to choosing a topic is to treat your own creative mind with some compassion and relax, but simultaneously to push yourself hard enough to start writing.
Preparation is key
Brainstorming is an excellent method for the average person. The great thing about using a brainstorming technique is that you really don’t need to have a good idea. Just think about any one thing that you know enough to write about and jot it down. For me, the first thing that pops into my head is “faucets” because I was doing a lot of research on kitchen faucets earlier today since I need a new one and now I feel like I could write a book about them. It truth, I wouldn’t want to just choose the topic of faucets and start writing because it’s very broad and potentially boring. That leads me to recall that I’ve also done research on a number of other household items, so I could jot down several on my brainstorming list. From there I may start thinking about topics I am truly good at, like growing herbs in the kitchen. Before you know it, my list will grow.
Taking the wheat from the chaff
Once you have a lot of rough ideas written down, it’s sort of like having a pile of junk you bought at a flea market. You may decide to discard some of it. Other things will need to be polished up. You might find a few gems. When I’m choosing from my brainstorming list, I’ll start to narrow down to topics that I know about, seem interesting, and can be narrowed down enough for the length I need. I also want to choose an idea that fits an audience I plan to write for. If I’m planning to write a basic short article and I have written on gardening before, I might narrow down to “Growing Basil in Your Own Kitchen.” Now I have something that would appeal to an audience interested in my past work and I have a narrow enough topic to explain in a short piece of writing. Your own choice will depend on your audience.
Keep your list nearby as you begin to write, especially the shortened list of your best ideas. Sometimes you will begin to write and realize that there is something that isn’t quite working. You may decide to refine your original topic a little or choose another topic from your list. Either way, you now have a specific topic in mind and can start adding words to your blank page!
For more info and advice about writing, check out our post – How to Write Better Content