You Have a Lot to Write About
Remember these 4 things when you feel like you have nothing to offer
For what felt like the millionth time, I stared at my screen, trying to come up with a post for my blog that would help people. After all, we’re all busy and nobody wants to waste their time reading something that’s not helpful or wildly entertaining.
But, trapped by feelings of insufficiency, I couldn’t think of anything to write about that would be helpful for anyone else.
That’s when I realized that I was thinking about it all wrong. Instead of focusing on how my experiences can help others, I was focusing on what I think other people need to hear. In that faceless void, it’s not hard to understand why I wasn’t thinking of anything.
Without a specific audience, there’s no need to meet.
And without thinking of specific experiences, I have no expertise to speak from.
If you’re like me and you’ve ever gotten stuck, maybe these tips will help you. Instead of staring at the screen and trying to dream up a post that will help everyone in the world, use these tools to figure out what you have to write about.
1. What You’ve Accomplished
Maybe you’re a rocket scientist and you’re helping plan the next moon landing. Or, maybe you’ve lived with clinical depression your entire life, and you still get out of bed every morning.
Both of those are unique experiences. By writing about one, you could help the young woman pursuing a career in rocket science. If you wrote about the other, you could encourage the single dad who’s trying to raise a 15-year-old son who was just diagnosed with clinical depression.
It doesn’t matter who you are or how little you feel like you’ve done. Something you’ve experienced or accomplished can help other people. Think through specific details of your life. Did you graduate college with no debt? Have you run four marathons while pregnant? Can you make The World’s Best homemade pizza?
Write about your experience. It will help someone.
2. Problems You’ve Solved
I knew a guy once who didn’t hate problems. In fact, he welcomed them. He used to say, “Problems are opportunities to succeed.”
He was absolutely right. What he didn’t say that’s equally true is that problems give you something to write about.
If you have a problem and you keep your temper and come up with a solution, that’s an excellent thing to write about. Chances are, someone else will have that problem and you can help them solve it. Even if you fly into a rage, storm out of the room, and leave a trail of wreckage behind you, that’s also valuable to write about.
Writing helps other people not only know what to do, but also know what not to do (that just takes a lot of humility).
Did you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere with no roadside assistance service? Has a friendship gone downhill because of your bad habits? Did a deal at work fall through because of a he said/she said situation?
Write about what you did. It will help someone.
3. Things You’ve Made
When I was 21, I self-published my first book, a novel called The Cup. It was hard. After writing the book, I had to line up a cover designer, an editor, even someone to write the back-cover copy. I formatted the inside myself, nailed down all the details for publication, and worked to market it. It hasn’t made me rich or famous, but the experience taught me a lot.
And, as the years have passed, I’ve been able to help other people because of it. Friends will direct their friends to talk to me about self-publishing. People twice my age have asked me for help as they try to self-publish their book. Strangers have approached me to talk about the process.
All because I had the guts and determination to stick to it through the hard learning curve.
It doesn’t have to be a book — in fact, it doesn’t have to be anything creative at all. Have you mastered the art of baking a soufflé? Can you make an engine out of spare parts you find in an auto junkyard? Did you come up with a proposition that was immediately accepted at work?
Write about the process — the ups, downs, and in-betweens. It will help someone.
4. Places You’ve Been
In this day and age, most people who are planning a trip will google the destination looking for good food, sights to see, and the best place to stay.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never left your hometown — you can write about it with authority, and tell people the best restaurants and the most hospitable hotels. If you’ve done a lot of traveling, you can write about your experiences in the places you’ve been, whether they were good, bad, or ugly.
Or, if you don’t want to think about places on such a large scale, you can write about the places you go on a daily basis. After all, the small diner on the corner serves the best hash browns in the Midwest, and the auto parts store in your small Montana town is owned by a former New York City police officer who won multiple awards for courage in the line of duty.
People are always curious about good places to go, but if no one is writing about them, then how will they know they exist?
Write about where you’ve been. It can help someone.
Just Keep Writing
You have so much valuable insight to offer, if you’re willing to do the thinking and write out what you learned. Sure, writing isn’t always easy—but if you can help someone, isn’t that worth it?