Sometimes it’s hard to know what to write about, what your “brand” is, or what topics and themes can hold your interest over time. What should you be writing?
To figure that out, it helps to pay attention to the ideas and issues you’re drawn to. I’ve suggested before that keeping “five fat files,” whether physical or virtual, can be one way to collect information focused on things you care about, think about, research, and read about. The five fat files are a purposeful, intentional way to deepen your understanding over time and start to “own” that content, increasing your bank of knowledge and expertise.
Look at the lines you write in journals, the poems you pen in the margins of a manuscript, maybe the witty tweet or thoughtful Facebook update that reflects your personality and preferences.
You may discover your best themes and subject matter—the things “you should be grappling with as a writer”—hidden in plain sight.
“If you are struggling with what you should be writing, look at your scraps. Encoded there are the themes and subjects that you should be grappling with as a writer.”
— Betsy Lerner
Source: Lerner, Betsy. The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers. New York: Riverhead, 2000. Print. (p. 24)
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