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What should you write about?

Updated on May 16, 2013

We all need topics

People often ask me what to write about. They notice that I have published over 800 hubs, many of which contain words and sentences. I cannot sit down to a luscious burrito at Chipotle without a burly auto mechanic or an FBI agent asking me for writing tips. Everyone yearns to be a published author with many pithy articles to their credit.

Leaving a large number of words on HubPages does not guarantee writing success, no no. On the other hand, no one gets famous creating Word documents on their home PC. I'm here to help: read on for some of my best tips regarding topic selection. I offer no guarantees, expressed or implied, but feel free to wade into the ocean of my success and relax on the sandy beach of my wordmanship to tan yourself in the glaring sunshine of my writing acumen. Download some digital sunblock if you are fair skinned.

Lesson #1: Write what you know

Our third grade Language Arts teacher already told us this one, but evidently few payed attention because I continue to be interrogated in the McDonald's drive-through by erstwhile writers. Generally speaking, we can't write about subjects about which we know nothing. Readers tend to realize early on in their reading that they are reading something not worth reading. You tend to lose readers that way.

Turn off the flat screen TV and think about what you know. Have a slice of paper and a writing device handy: often ideas arrive in such a manner as to obligate 'writing them down.' You certainly don't want to miss out on your next Great Topic because your ideas leaked out of your brain before you could scribble them onto semi-permanent media. Don't worry about no grammar or speling mistakes. Only you and your therapist will read these notes anyway.

After knowing what you know, think about what you don't know. Now you have a list of things that you know you don't know. Typically this list is exceeded only by the New York telephone book in size, scope, and weirdness. If you know what a telephone book is, that might have been funny.

Lesson #2: Write in the Active Voice

Obviously, you, as an author, regardless of your skill level, from your first composition to your last, hope to grab hold of your reader by the figurative shirt collar and drag them on a literary journey of pathos and ethos, hopefully without typos.

To achieve this admirable achievement you will need to use verbs, but not just any verbs. You absolutely must dole out some action verbs. Passive verbs are dull and will have your reader yanking your figurative hands from their figurative shirt collar. Nothing dissuades a reader from reading faster than verbs that convey boringness. Dissuaded readers are the last thing you want, except for a cold burrito, but that can be warmed up in the microwave.

Here's an example. Instead of writing Polly was in love, consider replacing the passive verb was with a more engagingly engaging verb: Polly represented the epitome of undying adoration because she fell unerringly in love with a really good writer. Or something like that.

Lesson #3: Use the Google Keyword Tool

I think it's an FCC regulation that every article enumerating Internet writing techniques include at least 100 words earnestly discussing the Google Keyword Tool. No amount of word combinations could ever aspire to adequately describe the importance and significance and utter splendiferousness of this software gift. One day I hope to properly characterize a minute fraction of a tiny insignificant aspect of one of the lesser functionalities of this tool, but I will probably never come close to even describing how to enter data into the text boxes.

Yes, the Google Keyword tool may very well be the most important writing tool since the online free thesaurus and the really big cup of black coffee. No, it won't give you the power to create Hemmingway-like prose. Yes, it provides a veritable plethora of innumerable writing topics. No, it doesn't guarantee you a top 10 ranking in the search engines. Yes, it does offer a window into the inscrutable mind of Internet surfers. No, it's not as good as topics contrived by Mark Ewbie.

Lesson #4: read other writers

You may be surprised to learn that I am not the only writer on HubPages. Indeed, several other humans have posted compositions. One slick trick that really really good writers use to 'pad' their 'writing' is called the 'list.' In this case, we can easily enumerate literally hundreds of other HubPages authors in order to make our writing seem more better. Yes, we can. This strategy works very well when you know some other writers, otherwise the list becomes annoyingly short and possibly repetitive.

After reading the words, sentences, paragraphs, and punctuation marks thoughtfully arranged by other HubPages writers, look for topics that interest you. You may notice trends. Pomegranate articles proliferate. iPad, iPod, and iPhone impressions inundate. Try to stay away from Bollywood-related topics: some sincerely stellar authors have already mastered this genre. You cannot hope to compete.

Lesson #5: Keep it Briefly Short

We live in a microwave society. We all want our topics in small doses that are easily consumed between trips to Subway for more delicious custom-made sandwiches. Given the choice, most readers only read every other word anyway. No one actually slogs through an entire hub from beginning to end, pausing only to annotate the good parts and post Twitter messages back-linking to the exceptional parts. I am fully aware that no one will ever read this paragraph because it's embedded over 800 words into the article. It's deeper than a Very Special Episode of Blossom. It's hidden better than the talent on American Idol. It's harder to get to than the hamburger patty in a Whopper. It's more difficult to find than an honest politician in Washington. it's more obtuse than nuclear physics round-table discussions on The View. You get the message, or you would if you were actually reading this.


If you're successful, don't blame me.

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    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 7 years ago

      I like the humorous execution of your topic!

    • James Agbogun profile image

      James Agbogun 7 years ago

      "Instead of writing Polly was in love, consider replacing the passive verb was with a more engagingly engaging verb: Polly represented the epitome of undying adoration because she fell unerringly in love with a really good writer. Or something like that"

      Never empty of Ideas!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great information. Thanks

    • mrsbudryzer profile image

      mrsbudryzer 7 years ago from Jersey Shore

      That was simply educational, entertaining, and right on the money.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @dahoglund: That takes too long. Just read my hubs and you'll be OK.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Adding to write what you know might be to research in order to know.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Truckstop Sally: You should check out my series of Pomegranate hubs... it's epic.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 7 years ago

      Fun hub!! Love your #2 dramatice examples AND #4 -- I really do love any pomegranate drinks. Thinking they are healthy!! Ha!!

    • gr82bme profile image

      gr82bme 7 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the tips. I am hoping to become a better writer.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I'll be brief and not blame you. Good tips.