I get questions from writers that boil down to the idea that there’s some perfect topic or niche for them. One that will not only be fun to write but will make them a bunch of money. They want to know how to figure out what they should write.
I always come back to the questions, “What do YOU really want to write?”
Okay, I don’t always come back with that because a lot of this blog is about marketing yourself and choosing markets, and it’s all pretty decent advice. But getting clear on what you want to write is also good advice.
Here’s the thing.
Freelance writing specialty or not?
If you decide to write about, oh, say cats and make a specialty of those efforts you can. It helps if you like cats of course, and there’s a ton of competition, but it can be done. If you truly, deep in your heart, know you were born to write about cats, and some do know this, then that’s probably what you should write about.
But what if you’re like I am – you truly love cats and for whatever reason rarely write about them? Or supposing you write about cats and your making a decent living in that niche and you find yourself dragging yourself to your computer and agonizing over yet another article about the beasts – not because you’re trying to find exactly the right word, but because you’ve already written so much about cats that you want to scream?
Guess what? It’s totally okay to choose to write about cats and it’s totally okay to choose not to write about cats. One of the advantages of freelancing is we get a lot of choice in our jobs.
What happens if you go to a writing workshop and the leader starts talking about how profitable writing, oh, I don’t know, staying au courant in the fashion world. You’re tempted, until you realize you’d rather wear old jeans.
You’ve got more choice than your realize
The point is no matter who tells you what to write or what you decide to write about today, it’s not a life-time decision. It might be, but probably it isn’t. If you’re lucky when your 77 you’ll still want to write, but you’ll look back and realize you’ve written about a ton of different things.
Sure, unless your independently wealthy, you’ll have to pay attention to the money you can bring in writing about whatever. But if you’re smart the money won’t be your only focus. Over on our forum someone started a thread about what kinds of writing jobs we won’t take. For example, the only way I’d write about the tobacco industry would be to write about all the things that are wrong with it. I also know that my personal belief systems are not compatible with everyone’s. I’ve find by being up front about them when appropriate save both me and the client a lot of grief.
And if you don’t yet know what you want to write, I suggest you go outdoors, away from your computer, to a park or some lovely setting. Don’t make a big deal of this. Just grab a notebook and take a walk. Sit quietly for a bid. Let your mind drift and even soar. One way to get at this is to ask yourself what you would have liked to have written already. But that’s not the only way.
Jot down or draw two or three ideas that come to you. Play with them a bit and see which one makes your heart sing, and if it’s all three of them, great. Now, begin writing one of them – maybe only five or ten minutes a day and see what happens. Take credit for writing what you really want to write.
This isn’t instead of the writing that pays, but in addition to the work you do for your paycheck. And if you’re just getting started, do this anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised you can make some money writing what you love and know. If not, keep writing that the five or ten minutes each day, and use the rest of your writing time for earning.
If you’ve got questions or comments about this approach, please ask them in comments.
Write well and often,
Subscribe to Abundant Writing News at no cost to you, and get a free ebook about writing.