Creative process: “I don’t know what to write about”

By Dennis Mellersh

If you are in the beginning stages of the process of becoming a writer, you may be somewhat discouraged because you “don’t know what to write about.”

You may be questioning whether you have what it takes to be a writer because, after all, don’t real writers know from the beginning of their writing careers the themes or subjects they want to pursue in their writing?

Not necessarily.

When just starting out, many now prominent writers did not have a preference for either subject matter or the type of writing they wanted to pursue.

Some established writers may have been driven by specific themes at the beginning of learning the art of writing short fiction, for example, but for many, they just knew inside that they wanted to write – their themes would develop as they progressed as they learned how to write.

For example, in discussing his university education, fiction writer Ian McEwan told The Paris Review, “I was beginning to feel excited about writing. As is often the case, my wish to be a writer preceded any clear notion of subject matter.”

There are many examples of successful writers who tried out different formats of literature and different themes or subjects before they settled most of their attention on a genre that appealed most to them and which they seemed to have a talent for.

If you have settled on the writing format you want to specialize in, you have already accomplished a major step in the process of becoming a writer.

About Dennis Mellersh

Dennis Mellersh is an independent writer, journalist, editor, and editorial consultant.
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