What Should I Write? by Steph Beth Nickel

What Should I Write?

This is the first in a four-part series exploring what you should write and why.

Whether you make your living as a writer or are brand new to the adventure, it’s good to ask yourself these questions from time to time.

How do you decide what to write?

Here are nine questions to ask yourself that may help you zero in on the answer.

What topic(s) are you passionate about?

Are there one or more topics that get you fired up? Topics you can’t stop talking about? Topics that weigh heavily on your heart and mind?
Writing about one of these topics is a good place to start.

Do you see yourself writing fiction or nonfiction?

For a few moments put aside what others think you should write, even what you think you should write. Allow yourself to dream. Imagine a book cover with your name on it. Where would we find it in the bookstore?
This may or may not be the project you pursue, but it’s alright to let your creative self out to play. After all, creativity plays a key role in writing, whether fiction or nonfiction.

What is your area of expertise?

Before you argue that you aren’t an expert in anything, consider how you spend your time.
Do you do all your own car repairs? Have you raised a large family? Are you dealing with a chronic illness?
Have you read every book on a given subject? Watched every documentary on Netflix? Listened to every podcast you could find?
Expertise doesn’t necessarily come only with a university degree or a 30-year career.
What do you like to read?

If you love to read a particular kind of article or book, you’ve likely picked up a number of tropes and skills without even realizing it.

Could you see yourself writing something similar? If so, why not give it a try?

How much time do you have to devote to a single project?

Unless you’re a fast writer, it will likely take 6-12 months to write a book—maybe more. And then there’s the editing, publishing, and marketing …
If you can’t see yourself committed to a single project for at least a year or two, you may want to choose something shorter.

Who is your target audience?

Close your eyes and imagine reading your work to a single individual. Who is this person? The more specific you can be, the better.
This may not be the person you always write to, but it’s good to create each project with an individual or small group of individuals in mind.
What are they concerned about? How do they spend their time? What would you like to say to them in person?

Do you enjoy research?

Some writing projects require far more research than others. If you love to do research, nonfiction or historical fiction, may be right up your alley.
If the thought of doing an exhaustive Google search makes you shudder, you may prefer nonfiction that stems from your expertise or contemporary fiction set somewhere you’re familiar with, including characters who could be your family members, friends, and neighbours.

Is earning money from your writing one of your primary goals?

There is nothing wrong with “writing to market.” However, the market often fluctuates. Peoples interests change. What sells well today, may or may not sell well a year from now.
If you want to make a fulltime income from your novels, you’ll need to write several financed by your day job before this becomes a reality—assuming you’re not independently wealthy. <grin>
Freelance writing can provide a steady income, but you may have to write about topics that don’t interest you. If earning money from your writing is your top priority, this can be a good option—and can fund the writing closest to your heart.

Do you believe the Lord is leading you in a specific direction with your writing?

As Christians, seeking the Lord’s guidance should be at the top of our list. As is often the case, He may lead us on a completely unexpected path with our writing.
We must stay sensitive to His guidance and look for the doors He will open before us.

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