When we taught college classes, we assigned an essay a week on different rhetorical modes. After we had assigned a rhetorical mode for them to tackle, the first question was always, “What is the topic?” Our answer was ALWAYS, “Your choice.” This would elicit responses such as, “But we need a topic!” Or, “We were always assigned a topic to write on. I don’t know what to write about!” The frustration they were experiencing was obvious and always, again, led to the advice to pick something they were curious about if it were an explanation essay, or something they had a definite opinion on (if the essay were to be argumentative) that could be backed up by facts. As to a narrative essay–they should pick a time they remembered and write about it so that the reader would feel they were there, experiencing what the writer experienced. There would be much head-shaking and looks of discouragement–but they would try and most did an admirable job.
In your writing, the same thing should apply, we believe. It does not matter what genre you choose, it needs to be something you are vested in some way or another. What intrigues you, as a writer? What do you see, hear, experience that makes you want to explore further, write about?
If you feel like you are stuck in, for example, writing murder mysteries and cannot break from this mode, what else interests you? Can you weave a tale from seeing, for example, a homeless person with their dog, nothing more than a backpack, and wonder what that person’s story is? Plus, go one step further and watch, observe nuances, and then dare to talk to the person that you now THINK you know. They could help you write a different piece of work by their experiences, an editorial if you’re inclined towards journalism, a narrative, and yes, even a murder mystery. This may sound a little extreme to get a topic going, but think about it. If you are open to what is going on, how people feel or don’t feel, how certain things make an impact or can be shuffled off the shelves of your mind, you are now reaching new material, new topics, and developing new passions and desires to write about.
It is our opinion that there is no shortage of topics to be written about. Risk being open and human. If you want to write children’s stories, sit with children and listen to their stories, their interests. Talk to others who seem to share your particular fascinations with certain topics or issues.
It may seem we are being redundant but we truly believe if you watch–nature, people, animals–you will be afforded more topics and more in-depth material than you ever felt possible. One thing, as a side-note, that we find fascinating, is sitting in a waiting room anywhere, or a library and notice what people are reading, doing to amuse themselves. And many times, we wind up researching and developing topics that have personal significance to us. In short, the things to write about are there–You just have to see them, hear them, and put them into words.
Happy adventures in writing.
Judy Kukuruza’s book “One Body, Many Souls” can be found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2FuA241; Their website is at https://onebodymanysouls.com/. Their blog is at https://storywritersthoughts.wordpress.com/.