What to Write About

July 7, 2010 — 9 Comments

Sometimes I’m not sure what I want to write about, or if what I write will really make a difference. During these periods I’m learning a simple lesson: Write anyway.

Anyone who has mastered a skill, a sport, an instrument, painting, speaking or writing will probably offer you the same advice: Stay at it. Research streams consistently tell us that it takes about 10,000 hours in a complex activity to become an expert. That’s roughly five years of working 40 hours per week at something. OK, inhale. Exhale. My experience shows that depending on the complexity of the task and how deeply ingrained I want it to become a habit, it will probably take three to six months to get over the hump, then another year to really feel like I know what I am doing. This has proved true for changing my diet, learning a new job, making a new exercise program a part of my life, doing doctoral level research, and leading teams.

This morning I was in a conversation with someone who wants to start blogging. I offered him the same advice I had received three years ago when I began writing www.OnLeadingWell.com. I knew I wanted to blog regularly but feared I would lose motivation. These three questions helped me focus:

1. What am I passionate about? This must be something I naturally think about, read about, live out and and discuss with friends late at night.

2. What am I knowledgeable about? I have more than a handful of blog posts in my head on this topic AND I could write about it regularly.

3. What do I want to focus on and continue to learn about, perhaps to a point of mastery? I will add value for my readers only if I provide them with ideas, inspiration and resources that they might not have the time, perspective or connections to find on their own.

The best blogs, the ones I find myself returning to over and over again, seem to share these characteristics. So, if you’re wondering what to write about, find a blank piece of paper and answer these three questions. Make some notes. Jot down random ideas. Draw a few pictures. Then put it aside for a day and come back and stare at it. You’ll find what you’re looking for.

Here are two great links on overcoming inertia when trying to write blogs (by Michael Hyatt) or books (by Matt Mikalatos).

So, what do you want to write about?

9 responses to What to Write About

  1. I’ve found, after 20 years at it, that writing is rarely easy! Mostly, because it requires critical thinking–and we must fight all the “instas” in our culture to think critically. A worthy battle, but a battle indeed.

  2. Thanks for the advice. I have been going over the issue of writing lately. I believe that if I can bring myself to focus on how to write regular articles and get a functional blog running, it will affect my ministry and other areas of my life.

  3. Good input, Ken. Writing is a wonderful discipline to help you with your thinking and your communication. So not only might you encourage, motivate, inform, help someone with what you write, but you will help yourself in key disciplines of life.

  4. Focus, critical thinking, discipline – all of you hit the nail on the head. Writing clarifies thought. Thanks for the insights!

  5. chris brogan has some great posts of late that connect to this:

    Preparing blog posts ahead of time:
    http://www.chrisbrogan.com/travel-into-the-future/

    A Simple Blogging Formula:
    http://www.chrisbrogan.com/a-simple-blogging-formula/

  6. As I read the introduction of why I need to write, I found myself thinking about that too. What if people don’t want to read it? I would just waste my time!
    But I think I’m passionate about reading and writing the thoughts I have received and processed them with mine. It’s a joy to communicate to write my thoughts on what I’m sure I hold on to and try to live in out in my own life.
    Now I know: Just write anyway! Stay with it.
    Thanks for letting me know your experience in writings.

  7. Me too get in to this situation sometimes.. however i manage myself to get motivated and start writing by focusing on my favorite topics..

  8. Appreciated this post, Ken. Motivated me to set a weekly writing and blogging goal. Added you to my blogroll. Also liked thoughts from Chris Brogan on blogging that Brian shared.

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  1. Great Material » Kourtney’s Blog - July 25, 2010

    […] friend Ken recently blogged about writing about what you are passionate about, what you are knowledgeable […]

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