How to write about a topic when you don't know what to say

This comes up for me all the time. I’ll have a particular topic in mind, but I won’t know how to tackle it in writing. Here’s what I often do… and it helps.

Ask questions.

It’s pretty simple really. The idea is to take a topic and come up with questions about it. What do I want to know about it? What would my readers want to know about it?

For example, let’s say you want to talk about… oh, I don’t know… say Facebook comments (that comes to mind because after I type this up, I’m headed there to round out the evening).

You might ask…

  • How do friends comment?
  • Do they engage in a conversation, or do they just state what they think?
  • Do they pick up from what others have said in the comments, or do they pick up from the original post?
  • Do certain people comment on certain kinds of posts?
  • Do some friends continue to comment back if I respond to them?
  • What time do people comment the most?
  • What’s the reward for commenters – what’s in it for them?
  • What’s the difference between commenting and wall-to-wall interaction?
  • What is a comment anyway?

All these questions were off the top of my head in about a minute and a half. Once you have some questions, you can arrange them in some kind of order. Then go through and answer each one.

Sometimes when I write, I will even leave the questions in the final draft as rhetorical questions. It’s not difficult.

The trick here is getting out of the writing mode and more into the observing mode. It’s usually easier to think of questions first instead of trying to pull answers out of nowhere.

Give it a shot. I’ve written (now) hundreds of blog posts and dozens of college papers with this simple techneque. I’ll try it for my books too. :>)

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