Writing Tips: Topics, Topics, Topics.

Topics. That’s right. I said topics. Topics. Topics. Topics. Topics. Topics. Topics. Topics. Topics.

I know. I’m spamming my own post with the word “topics.” No, I’m not trying to get rated highly in the Google search engines for the word “topics.” I’m just trying to make a point about “topics.”

I’m one of those people who can write just about anything as long as I have a topic. I can research topics if I don’t know anything about them. If I do know about them, I’ll write about them without as much research. Either way, they normally get written quickly. It’s just the way I am. But here’s my problem:

“Topics.”

I know. I used that word again. But to write about something, you must have a topic in mind. I can sit there and think for hours and never come up with a topic. So the rest of this post is dedicated to the top 5 ways I know of finding good topics.

  1. Read. Read the news. Read other blogs. Let those topics start creating themselves in your brain as you look around. Don’t steal ideas of course. But feel free to use what you read as a jumping off point to start your own discussion. Here’s a few different things you can read for ideas:
    • Novels
    • Newspapers
    • News Websites
    • Blogs

    You get the idea.

  2. Watch. Again. Feel free to watch movies and television shows and write what you think about them. Let them kick start your mind. Movie reviews are a great way to share your opinions. Maybe the nightly news sparked an idea for a topic.
  3. Speak. Have a conversation with your friends. During that conversation, topics are bound to come up. Kind of hard to have a conversation without topics. Use those topics in your writing. Feel free to quote your friends.[1]
  4. Listen. Television and books aren’t the only media out there. Listen to your favorite radio shows. Even listening to music, especially lyrics, can help you come up with a topic.
  5. Ask. This one is not as obvious, but it gives great results. For example, I asked at some forums for some topic ideas and got plenty. I’ve already written quite a few posts using those sources. Asking has got to be one of the best methods of coming up with topics I’ve ever used. Why? Because a lot of people already read your words. They have preferences of what they want to read from you. So let them tell you those preferences.

Ok. So you now have topics. Or do you? See, the important thing to do is get those ideas for topics on “paper.”[2] Grab pen and paper, PDA, or handheld digital/tape recorder and start keeping track of all of those ideas. Then use them. No use in having topics to write about if you’re not going to write about them, right?[3]

Hope this helps you guys who seem to get stuck with “writer’s block.” Don’t forget: Topics.

Do you have any other methods of finding topics that you use? Feel free to share in the comments. Would love to hear them. Even specific shows, newspapers, etc. would be great to list.

Footnotes (or possibly random gibberish):
  1. Make sure to give credit where it’s due though.[]
  2. I put “paper” in quotes because there are many electronic ways of doing so. For instance I use an iPhone and the Evernote application.[]
  3. Catch the alliteration?[]

Author: Saphrym

I am a father, husband, teacher, thinker, reader, and writer. I talk to inanimate objects which tend to talk back to me. Just kidding. They whisper.

5 thoughts on “Writing Tips: Topics, Topics, Topics.”

  1. I see the benefit of writing topic ideas down on paper. But, I have a problem: Once it’s written down, it’s gone. Right out of my head. I’ve written down one idea that’s on that little sticky-note sidebar thingy in Vista, and it’s been there forever. It reminds me all the time, but it’s down already, done. Bummer.

    1. I have To Do items in a program called Remember the Milk. I have it tell me to look over ideas for stuff every day. Then in Evernote, I have an entire folder of ideas. I look through them and pick one to implement every day. Works like a charm for me. ;) The To Do program nags me enough to get it done and Evernote is just a great place to store information. Google Notebook works great too.

  2. I just upgraded Evernote on my iPhone and downloaded the PC app. I’ll start using it soon. I’ve been looking for a free-form, relational database app for awhile, and I hope it fits the bill.

    Maybe then, I’ll be able to do a better job generating topics!

    1. I love that app. I use the PC, browser, and iPhone versions. I also have RTM on the iPhone. Those two plus the me.com subscription have saved me from a life of forgetting appointments, forgetting things I need to do, and forgetting information. Paper just never did it for me. I kept losing the paper. ;)

  3. If you want to write great articles you need to stay targeted. If you talk about footbal, you must talk about footbal, not sports generally speaking. Thanks for sharing!

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