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Stuck on what to write about? Consider these big ideas

I’ve urged many friends to write. I know they have talent, I know they have a story to tell. But some of them are stalled. They tell me they want to write, but they just don’t know what to write about.

If this describes you, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to understand?
  • What makes me nervous or afraid?
  • What do I believe in?

If you have something on your mind and you just can’t let it go, write about it. What big idea or question grips you? Take that idea and bring it down to an individual level. Create a character that must confront or deal with that question, issue, or problem. It’s about finding something you’re passionate about. Because passion fuels compelling writing.

Or do what Sean Kenniff did. He wrote from his “ugly place.”

Kenniff was “inspired” to write his novel Etre the Cow after losing his job in the Great Recession. Kenniff felt alone, like a cow: powerless and disposable. Losing his job sent Kenniff to his “ugly place” and to a cow pasture at the end of his street. Yes, Keniff literally went to live with the cows.

Kenniff says in his blog that he always assumed that to be a great writer, one must have the right mix of talent, insanity, and alcoholism. He says he was short on all three but did have something else in common with the masters: an ugly place.

“Our lives are punctuated by defining moments–events that shape us, mold us, strengthen us, and even hurt us. These are the events that need to be written and need to be read.”

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