What To Write About – Ideas To Get Inspired
Writing a book, a blog post, or a short story is a great way to get your name out there as a leader in your field.
But before you can get started writing, you need one important thing—a topic to write about.
As an author, it’s common to experience writer’s block from time to time. While it’s frustrating to deal with, the good news is there are several steps you can take to overcome creative blocks and feel more inspired.
I’m going to talk about reasons we lack inspiration, ways to brainstorm good ideas, and how to figure out what to write about next.
Why Do I Lack Inspiration?
The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘inspiration’ in multiple ways, such as:
The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
A sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea.
If you’re trying to figure out what to write about—a topic for a book, a blog post, a short story, or another piece of writing—you might be looking for this feeling of inspiration.
Surely you’ll come up with that brilliant, creative, or timely idea that will serve as the perfect writing topic to hook your readers.
But sometimes, writing inspiration is difficult to find. You might feel unmotivated to sit down and work on your story.
Maybe all of your ideas seem unexciting or overdone. If you don’t feel inspired, the way to overcome your writer’s block is to figure out why.
Why do you feel uninspired? What is causing this “stuck” feeling? Why can’t you figure out what to write about?
Once you’ve narrowed in on the reason your inspiration is low, you can take steps to fix this and come up with interesting ideas once again.
Here are a few reasons why you might lack the inspiration to start writing.
You’re Doubting Yourself
One reason you can’t figure out what to write about: You might be experiencing self-doubt.
You may feel your ideas aren’t good enough. This can subconsciously lead to you producing fewer ideas.
How can you tell if you’re experiencing self-doubt?
From time to time, we all feel doubt in our abilities. But this doubt might be getting in your way if you constantly second-guess your decisions; you find yourself apologizing to others and you feel like you’re never good enough no matter how hard you try.
Working to improve your self-doubt will improve your ability to come up with new ideas, too. Practice compassion toward yourself and refrain from comparing yourself to others.
Remember the goals you’ve achieved and the success you’ve had in the past. You can do it again! Ask a close friend or family member to help encourage and support you along the way.
Too Much Input
Our world is full of media stimulation. If you’re consuming other peoples’ ideas 24/7, there may not be space to come up with your own original ones.
We’re all at risk of becoming overstimulated by the sheer quantity of input in our lives.
Did you know that every day, our brains process the equivalent of 34 gigabytes of information?
That’s enough to overload a laptop within a week! We receive approximately 105,00 words during the 12 hours we’re awake each day (23 words per second).
Researchers are concerned that because of this large amount of input (most of which is superficial), we’re losing the ability to think and feel ourselves.
The solution is simple: Stop the scroll. Get off social media, turn off the podcast, and put down your phone.
Sitting in silence might feel uncomfortable, and there’s no way to completely turn off every voice in our lives. But cutting down as much as possible will allow you to produce original, brilliant ideas.
You Aren’t Leaving Your Comfort Zone
If you’re not getting out of your comfort zone, this is another thing that can hold you back from knowing what to write about.
When you’re in your comfort zone, everything feels safe and familiar. You feel… comfortable.
Getting out of your comfort zone takes courage. It can be scary to do something new, but living life is what generates our inspiration and ideas.
Leaving your comfort zone boosts creativity. When you’re outside of your “normal,” you can’t live life on autopilot. You’re forced to think on your feet. And this will naturally make you more flexible, productive, and creative.
You don’t have to make big changes at first. Try doing something small. Go for a run outside tomorrow instead of going to the gym, attend a networking event you haven’t been to before, or go ahead and buy that guitar you’ve been meaning to learn to play.
Look for any way you can switch up your routine. As you get used to making these smaller shifts, over time you’ll feel more prepared for when bigger opportunities come along.
If you never leave your comfort zone, chances are your writing is going to inspire people. Getting out of your comfort zone is imperative to help you come up with things to write.
How to Get Inspired and Generate Ideas
Have you figured out why you’re struggling to find inspiration?
The next step is to implement practices into your life that will help you find the writing inspiration you need. Here are several ideas that will help you come up with things to write.
Do Competitor Research
Who are the other voices in your niche and what are they writing about?
This is important to know–not so you can copy their writing prompts, but for you to draw inspiration to come up with your own.
Figure out who your competitors are. If you’re an author who writes in a certain niche for a specific audience, your competitors might be other writers who write about similar topics.
Analyze your competition by looking at their website, their social media networks, and running a Google search.
You want to figure out what topics they regularly write and talk about—and how well those topics are being received by your shared audience.
Once you know what these topics are, you can use them as a starting point to brainstorm. How can you use your own skills, knowledge, and personal experiences to come up with topics that are similar, but even better?
That’s your job to figure out!
If you’re trying to think of new creative writing topic ideas, meditation might not be your first thought. But meditating can help generate a book idea.
Meditation is all about clearing your mind. And when your mind is empty of the stress from your day, writing ideas might rise to the surface.
It also helps you focus on the present moment. This may enable a state of “flow,” where creative thinking comes naturally.
One study showed that as little as 10-12 minutes of meditation is enough to foster creativity and help you come up with a wide range of ideas. If you’d like to follow a guided meditation, you can simply follow these steps:
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit.
- Set a time limit.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath, focusing on the sensation. Breathe deeply in and out.
- Mentally “scan” your body. Relax any areas where you are physically tense.
- If your mind wanders, don’t beat yourself up. Return to focusing on your breath.
- Continue until your timer goes off.
Meditation is as easy as that. Try to move directly into a brainstorming session right after you meditate. You’ll likely find that you come up with interesting topics and better ideas.
Think About Your Experience
You may feel as if you don’t have the life experience needed to write a book. But here’s a secret: Whatever life experience you have is the right life experience.
You can write about anything—ethical dilemmas, challenges faced, a childhood memory, and the list goes on and on.
A little self-reflection on your own life can help you come up with a different angle on more ideas.
Start by considering your knowledge. Maybe you’re an expert in a certain subject and have extensive knowledge of that topic.
Next, think about your personal life experience. This includes things like hobbies and family dynamics. Maybe you enjoy sailing. Maybe you grew up in Chicago. Maybe you’ve walked with a close family member through a difficult cancer diagnosis.
These might seem like random topics. But each one could help you fill a blank page.
The bottom line: Don’t discount your life experience. You probably have a wealth of ideas within you without even realizing it. And there’s a reason the saying “write what you know” is so common. Starting from real-life experiences will make it easier to write without feeling stuck.
Get Off Social Media
Remember when I talked about social media stimulation earlier? We are constantly bombarded with input. And if you’re inundated with others’ ideas, it can be hard to come up with your own.
That’s why spending less time on social media can help with your writing process. But for many of us, this is easier said than done.
You can spend less time on social media by turning off notifications, deleting the apps from your phone, or setting a time limit of 15 minutes per day.
Alternatively, you could limit your social media use to mornings only or evenings only.
I recommend evenings since your brain is fresh and primed to come up with good ideas in the morning. Don’t waste that time on social media.
Another idea is to get completely off social media one day a week or one week each month. If you utilize social media for marketing or networking, use a scheduling tool to schedule posts in advance. This way, you can still maintain a digital presence without having to check your account every day.
Use the 10-Minute Rule
If brainstorming seems like a tedious task to you, use the 10-minute rule. Set a timer and brainstorm ideas for 10 minutes. You can stop when the timer goes off if you want to, but commit to thinking hard about ideas for at least 10 minutes.
During these 10 minutes, write down as many ideas as you can think of. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t seem “good enough.”
You’ll sort through them later and they may be better than you think. Once your 10-minute timer goes off, you can be done.
However, remember that the longer you brainstorm, the more creative your ideas are likely to be. It may be most helpful to set up a pattern where you brainstorm for 10 minutes, take a five-minute break, and repeat this process multiple times.
Not a lot of people spend most of their day outside. In one survey, 60% of adults said they spent five or fewer hours outside in nature each week (not including organized sports). For people who are trying to come up with good topics to write about, this is bad news.
When we move away from technology in favor of immersing ourselves in nature, this improves performance on tasks like creative problem-solving. Even a short 25-minute walk in a green space will increase cognitive functioning.
Being outside also boosts your physical energy and health. Plus, you’ll feel less stressed or anxious and will get better sleep after some time in the great outdoors.
Need some ideas about what to do outside? You might choose to:
- Go for a walk (by yourself, or with a friend or pet)
- Have a picnic
- Go hiking
- Go fishing
- Watch wildlife
- Go camping
- Read a book
- Go biking
Brainstorm With A Friend
Ever heard the saying two heads are better than one? There’s a reason for this statement—it’s true. It’s difficult to be creative in a vacuum where you are the only one evaluating your ideas.
Talking to a family member or friend can help you come up with more things to write. You’ll find inspiration while discussing childhood memories or life experiences.
If you don’t have someone with whom you can bounce around ideas, consider joining a writer’s group or looking for an accountability buddy/critique partner.
Another writer can give you feedback on your ideas while you offer your thoughts on theirs. Together, you’ll both make each other stronger, better writers.
Write Everything Down
Anytime you have an idea, big or small, write it down. You never know what it might turn out to be.
Even if it doesn’t seem viable, go ahead and write it down so it can marinate in your mind. You might come up with a different angle that ends up being the perfect fit.
Dedicate a notebook to keep with you to create a running list of ideas. Every so often, pull out your list and scan over it.
Jot down any additional thoughts that come to mind. It’s helpful to have all of your ideas in one place so you can reference them as you come up with things to write.
Reading books is one of the best ways to figure out what to write about.
Reading makes you more creative and enhances imagination because it allows us to learn from the experiences of others. It also exercises the parts of our brain that allow creativity.
You can read books in your niche and books written by your competitors to find inspiration for your own ideas. But to really get the creative juices flowing, you should also read more widely, picking up titles outside your usual genre.
In addition to reading books by your competitors or from fiction writers, you could also read books about the science of creativity or the craft of writing.
These will help make you a better overall writer. Some books may even include a writing prompt list, serving as a great tool to help you write your own story.
Get Outside Your Usual Circles
I’ve talked about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and brainstorming ideas with others. But I also want to encourage you specifically to get outside of your usual social circles.
Make new friends, spend time with different people, and allow chance encounters with strangers to impact your creativity and writing.
People inspire and affect us in ways we might not fully realize. Your experiences and those of other people are likely one of the biggest factors impacting what to write about. That’s why meeting new people and engaging in conversation can spark new thoughts.
Here’s another way to look at it: When you spend time with new people, you’ll need to introduce yourself. You’ll tell stories about your life as you spend time getting to know one another.
This might give you a different perspective on your younger self and your life experiences, allowing you to turn those things into new ideas to write about.
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How to Choose an Idea
I’ve covered several methods you can use to clear your mind, foster creativity, and actively brainstorm things to write.
Once you have a long list of ideas, how do you choose the one that’s right to write about right now? It can feel overwhelming trying to decide which idea is the best choice to move forward with.
To make a decision, organize all of your ideas in one place. Next, think about the ideas in light of your current writing project—whether that’s a full-length book, a blog post, flash fiction, or something else.
Do you have a deadline for this project? Who is your audience? How easy or difficult would a certain idea be for you to write about?
Questions like these will help you figure out what to write about.
Another helpful method is to get an objective opinion. Ask your best friend, one of your family members, or your critique partner to look at your writing ideas. Have them rank your ideas based on what they, or your audience, would be most interested to read.
Don’t throw away the ideas you don’t use. Just because they aren’t right for today doesn’t mean they won’t be right for a future project. Save all of your writing ideas so you’ll have them the next time you’re trying to figure out what to write about.
Get Your Idea on the Page
You have an idea and you’re ready to start writing. Congratulations!
But this is only the beginning of the journey. See your idea through to the end with my Book Writing Template. This free resource is the jump start you need to write the book of your dreams. I’ll share my formula to map out every page of your book and bring it together into a cohesive story.
Click here to download the template and learn how to get your idea onto the page.
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.