Q&A: When Someone Says 'What Should I Write About' What Do You Say?
And how much time should you take saying it?
Hello, Everlastings, I hope you read my tutorial on building a Substack newsletter, and that you’ve shared it with Substack beginners who might need it.
That would be great! They’re going to need it.
As I was writing it, I found myself wanting to veer off and talk about the writing itself but kept from doing it, mainly because I needed to focus the tutorial on building a home for their writing. I needed to keep it simple.
The reason I thought I should add it is because every time I’m in a writers’ forum, like Substack Office Hours, for example, someone new to blogging or newslettering wants to know what they should write about in order to draw readers. It’s like asking ‘what kind of air should I breathe today?’ There is no good answer, but the question is a staple now. I’ve never not seen it there.
So that’s the question today: If someone asks what they should write about, what is your usual reaction? I’m not trying to be snarky or dismissive, it’s just that the question stumps me. Genuinely stumps me. I think the question must be borne out of desperation. The writer wants to write, maybe sees a chance to latch onto something fun and interesting, but gets to that blank screen and everything goes…blank.
I see it as putting the cart before the horse: Writers write because they have something to say. It’s hard enough when we’re struggling with how to say it; it would be near impossible if we had to start out with nothing on our minds.
So my immediate first impression is we have a dilettante on our hands. Someone who wants to be a writer but doesn’t want to do the work. Or someone so naive about writing they haven’t figured out there’s a mountain of skill involved before the magic happens.
And I don’t answer. I never answer. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. So there it is. Am I missing something? Misinterpreting the intention? Getting those people all wrong?
Is ‘What should I write about?’ a fair question? As always, comments are open. Let’s talk!
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