Friday, March 5, 2010

What Should I Write About?

Ideas are everywhere, right? Wherever you look, smell, taste, hear, touch, or imagine, you run into them—or they run into you. (Write them down! I always carry a pocket notebook for those elusive ideas I’d forget if I didn’t nab them when they first appeared.)

Suppose you want to write a poem. How do you decide which idea to write about? Three things make an idea a good idea. Use these tips to evaluate yours:

1. Write about something you care about. This is true of almost every kind of writing—and especially poetry. If you try to write a poem about something that doesn’t matter to you, you probably won’t be satisfied with the result. The poem will suffer. Readers will recognize your lack of enthusiasm.

2. Write about something familiar. Nothing will derail you faster than running out of things to say because you’ve exhausted your knowledge. The better you know something, the better equipped you are to write about it. Yes, of course, you can research your topic—if you care enough to make the effort.

3. Write about one specific thing. It seems like a contradiction, but you can actually say more about one dog (especially if you know it and care about it) than you can about the whole canine species. Why? Because dogs don’t have all that much in common. Not all dogs bark. Not all dogs wag their tails—or even have tails to wag. Not all dogs have glossy fur or sparkly eyes or an earth-shaking wiggle. Your own dog, on the other hand, has its own quirks and tricks and endearing behaviors, providing a wealth of unique qualities to describe.

So grab your notebook—the one with the long list of ideas—and choose the best one for you!

Writing Workout

Brainstorming for a Topic

Here are some categories of topics you can consider when you write your own poem. Remember to test your idea against the three tips above.
  • a family celebration
  • your favorite (or least favorite) food
  • something you do in your spare time
  • a place you've visited
  • a bird, plant, or animal you know
  • something you remember from a long time ago


Carmela Martino said...

Yes, being specific is so important. I know I sometimes forget that. :-)

Beverley BevenFlorez said...

Great post! I added a link to this on my Writers' Well today. :)