How to Write a Book When You Don’t Know What to Write About

That sounds just plain crazy!


Why would anyone write a book when they don’t know their topic?

Actually, lots of people start out this way. Some people have the idea for a topic first, while others are just drawn to writing a book. It’s the chicken or the egg thing (Actually, eggs definitely came first because dinosaurs laid eggs as well, long before the first intermediary between reptiles and birds graced the Earth. But I digress.).

I have to use my biology degree sometimes. It’s in my contract.

So for those who are drawn to the idea of writing a book but don’t know what to write about, here are some suggestions to get you on the path.

  • Brain dump

This is a useful choice for anyone who has a ton of nebulous ideas floating around in their head but no direction on any of them.

Start by writing them all down. This may take several different writing sessions for you because there is always one more tucked away in the corner that you forgot about. Chase them all down, and get them on your list.

Once you can actually see all your ideas, you’ll be able to sort them out. Look at what you have been mulling over in the back of your mind and make some decisions about whether they have any merit. Mark out any that are hackneyed ideas that you don’t think you can bring a new twist to. Delete those that just don’t sound appealing.

Trust your gut on this. If you read the topic and think, “I don’t want to write about that,” chances are, your readers won’t want to read what you wrote. You have to be passionate about what you’re writing to elicit a good reaction from your audience.

Narrow your list down to about two or three that you feel comfortable working with. Then, determine which one you are most drawn to and start making notes about that topic.

  • Topics of interest

Write down everything that you are truly passionate about. Include your hobbies, parts of your daily or work routine, and facets of your life that you adore. Now consider whether you could write about any of those topics for an extended time.

If you write fiction, consider developing a character who would do each of those things. Ask your character questions and see what they are drawn to. If it’s a good fit for the character, then start writing a little about the character’s life before you work on your plot. Ask yourself how the aspect of your life that you were drawn to would play out in your character’s life. What would happen that would drive the plot? How is your character like you? Would they adapt to situations in your life the same way you do?

  • Your expertise

Make a list of everything that you can consider yourself to be an expert in. What are you passionate about? What do you like to talk to others about? What do you help people with?

If your list is extensive, consider where there may be a need for information. Do some digging online to discover what questions people have about your different topics. Is there something here that you could write about? If you’re the expert, then this may be your book topic.

Expertise can cover a variety of things, including work and home life, hobbies, and experiences. Don’t feel like writing about the same topic that someone else has makes your book invalid. You are different, so your story will be different. Every experience is unique!

Also, it’s likely that you will reach a different audience, based on what networking circles you are in and the part of the country, as well. As long as you aren’t copying someone else’s story, don’t worry that you both wrote about the same topic.

Another consideration is whether your topic is too broad or too focused. You have to make sure that you have enough information to talk about without having so much that you have to be vague.

With a little consideration, anyone drawn to writing can discover their topic. It’s when we get stuck in our own heads with that list of great ideas or the fear of actually sitting down to write that we run into trouble.

The most important thing you can do is set aside some quiet time in a place you enjoy working so you can get all your ideas on paper and finally pinpoint your topic!

Not sure where to begin? Book a clarity call with me! Contact me to set up our free 30-minute session, so I can help you get started on your book.

Crush your writing excuses!

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