So you want to write a book, upload it Amazon or something, and need a good topic to write about?
You’ll get a much more productive answer by rephrasing that question. Try, for instance, what can I write about that adds value to others?
Notice how shifting the focus charges your quest with experience. It immediately empowers you. Your life experience is now a library you can draw on. Your observations and skills are now a tool which, if you’re inspired to put pen to paper, can generate any number of topics.
So empower yourself with what you have rather than seeking for an good topic.
At the end of this article you’ll find an exercise to generate book ideas in just 5 minutes, but first understand these few things.
Value is why publishers start by understanding what readers are seeking out there, on any subject because there’s always some aunty out there who’s dying to learn about decoupage. So how can your life experiences contribute to her? Even if you’re a grease monkey you two could hit it off over the joys of precision in your craft. Value is asking if you teach them something, make them laugh, from your experiences.
Eventually a book is like everything else you consume: you see a value in it. Food abates hunger, stories satisfy another type of hunger that we experience in life. Sometimes it’s to learn something, other times to escape into our fantasies. Many people read to explore themselves and sharing your experiences helps them see their own challenges from a different perspective.
So selecting a topic to write about is really asking yourself what you’d like to share. Life is participation, and drawing on your experiences is as old a tradition as the campfire story. Writing began as a loving grandfather telling the kids about his life, hoping it’ll help them navigate.
So speak to people about ideas you think are worth writing about. While listening to their opinions, also note how you respond to the conversation. That will tell you how deep your well of inspiration goes for a particular topic. It’s an answer to what interests you, and helps to narrow down the subject you’d like to write about.
Your unique perspective on anything will provide you with the all important premise that becomes the focus of almost any written work. For instance, think ‘fashion’. I bet you can find a hundred different perspectives on the subject and yours may just be the one to help aunty evade the fashion police.
In fact there’s a story right there. A hideously dressed woman with orange lipstick and purple clothes is being chased by the fashion police. And then she runs into stylish ‘ol you!
Complete that story for fun. See it’s a value, entertainment in this case, and if you keep talking to people to narrow down your topic, you’ll eventually end up with a few good choices to write a book about. And the more interest people show in a topic, the more accurate you’ll be in predicting whether your story’s worthwhile writing.
When it comes to topics, what interests you and others is a scoping tool. Use it!
After that it’s simply a matter of gathering your content, structuring it, and presenting it in a way that others can understand. Sure you can get sophisticated about structure, grammar, and all that jazz, but you’re close to putting pen to paper once you know what you want to write about.
Easier than you thought huh?
Take a look at this: the whole book came out of one conversation with a friend who’s a strong woman, successful at her career, but just couldn’t understand why she relationships escaped her.
Hers was a problem experienced by many people, men and woman alike, and as we spoke about it she came to understanding that her relationship woes may’ve been a consequence of not knowing her place in them. That’s what the book is about. Because it’s fiction, the message is dramatized as a that kind of woman being kidnapped by a ‘demon’ who keeps dragging her about Johannesburg.
Similarly, when choosing your topic, dig within your own experience because that’s where great books come from…people who’ve lived!
Get Started Now
So pour yourself a warm drink in a comfortable and quiet place where you can allow your thoughts to play.
In 1 minute write down 5 words that spring to mind. Any will do. Select one that looks interesting. It’s just a game so the one you choose isn’t important.
Take that interesting word and make 5 random sentences with it. Now try to join those 5 sentences with connective tissue, thoughts essentially, that string them all up into a short paragraph. Remember, this is just play so it only needs to read sensibly and wha-la! You have a story.
Take it further: Draw a circle around your chosen word. Give the circle 5 legs and write 5 more words that your chosen word inspires. Brainstorming in this way for as many levels as you like will produce a mind-map of any subject. Treat each word in the map as a prompt to write another sentence and soon you’ll have enough for a book.
What you’re really doing is building an idea from which a story will emerge, and that can turn into a book.
Did you come up with a crazy story? Tell us in the comments below.