June 7, 2016

How Do You Choose A Topic?

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief for Southern Writers Magazine

It seems lately my inbox is drowning with emails from people sending me all sorts of information on how to write non-fiction “help” books. Reading a few of the emails,   most of them are trying to sell me their information on writing a nonfiction book. Just $9.99 is the price most quote. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should not invest in materials to help with our writing. I am saying we need to determine what we need before grabbing something out of the inbox. Most everyone I read said, “Choose your Topic”, and then it went on with other suggestions of how we needed their help to choose these topics.  Some of them try to sell you a list on topics to pick.  I was curious as to how difficult it might be to choose a topic without buying their material.

The first thing I did, taking a pad and pen, was watch the news streaming across my computer. It didn’t take long until I had these topics listed:

Integrity, honesty, ethics, discipline, principals, health, wealth, time, organizing…well you get the idea. Just on watching these streamers, I came up with a list of about fifteen items in less than five minutes.

I am sure most everyone now has heard about the children ganging up on another kid at school and beating them not to mention the kids ganging up on a person coming out of a grocery store and beating them. I could go on with the knifings, shootings, road rage. It’s a long list. The sad part is that the behavior of kid’s gave me the items for this list. The ages are under 18. Watching the news that night, needless to say, I added to my list of topics for non-fiction books.  Here are just a few I listed:
Bullying, intimidating, physical violence, passive-aggressive behavior, abuse, harassment, humiliation, demeaning, negative thinking and actions, power, and jealousy. These are more choices for topics.

My point is we don’t have to buy a list from someone to come up with topics to write non-fiction books. Look around–listen to the news, read the paper, watch the streamers on the computer. Topics are everywhere.

Even personal topics abound.  How do we find those? Grab a cup of tea, (or coffee) sit out on our porch looking at the scenery and let our mind wander. What things pop in your head?  Jot them down. There’s loneliness, love-having or wanting, companionship, nature, creation. Anything that pops up put on the list. Let our feelings take over for a few minutes and we’ll have many topics.

In reality, finding a topic to write about is not the hard part. Topics are everywhere. The hard part would be choosing a topic from our list because there are many. We could choose anyone of them and write our slant, our thoughts and our ideas in a nonfiction book. In other words, we will write the topic with our voice. It makes no difference how many books are out there on the subject. Our voice will make the difference; what we bring to the subject.

So, now that we decide to choose one of our topics, what do we do next?

Is it time to do the research or is it time to write an outline? What are your thoughts? Do you have some topics in mind to write a non-fiction book?

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