How to Choose a Topic

What Should I Write About?

Choosing a topic can be a big hangup for writers.

What should I write about?  Am I well-versed enough to write on X topic? Do I have sufficient thoughts to squeeze out an article of at least 500 words?

In my writing, once I have a solid topic my mind begins to script out what I want to say.  If you read my article on General Writing Tips, you will see some of the writing hacks I use to generate quality content.

Fortunately for writers like you and I, there are ways of overcoming topic block.

If you feel stuck, try out some of my tricks for choosing a topic:

TRICK #1: Phone a Friend

People love giving advice.

Your friends love it even more.  Talk to your friends/colleagues and ask them topic ideas.  Ask them about areas that you could speak about in-depth or perhaps topics for which you have a unique perspective.

Here are a few example questions I ask my colleagues when I am trying to pick a new topic for an article:

  • I want to write an article on [insert broad topic here], what do you think would make an interesting read?
  • What do you think is the most notable struggle for [insert population here]? How might you address that?
  • What is the most important thing to remember as a [insert friend’s social role here]?

TRICK #2: Peruse the News

THIS JUST IN … YOUR TOPIC!

Sometimes I avoid reading the news because of the way the stories reflect American culture.  Yet, an up-to-date clinician needs to keep her/his finger on the pulse of social happenings.

If you are limited on time, I recommend breezing through the Google News front page.  Google typically does a good job of presenting a variety of views on the same story (Fox News, CNN, Washington Post, etc.), thus allowing the reader to get a more balanced perspective.

Look for stories that depict mental health issues, social justice, or medically relevant changes in our culture.

For example, I noticed a few news articles about reputation in the workplace and decided to author an article for Time2Track on building a reputation in graduate school.

TRICK #3: Consult Your Collection

I am but a mere grad student, but I am compiling a substantial library of texts on psychology, sociology, therapy, and assessment.  I also own the entire collection for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight (yes, I know), Divergent, and Hunger Games.  But I digress.

Take a look at that fat stack of books you keep in your home or office.  What themes do you notice?  Was there a specific message that you took from a book that you want to share with the world?  Do you have memories of these books?  Are they simply the leftovers from what the bookstore would not buy back?

Occasionally, I will crack open one of the dustier books and flip to a random page.  That is where I got the inspiration to consult on the Wellness Tips for Twin Cities Psychology & Counseling.

TRICK #4: Keep Calm and Listen

Some of the best stories come organically in the work we do as therapists.

Although we cannot ethically write details about what our clients share in session, we are allowed to be inspired by their transitions, their courage, their pain.

As a veteran clinician, perhaps you have noticed that certain techniques work well with certain populations or problems.  Graduate students and early career clinicians love learning from the feet of the master, and sharing your story may be one way to provide your expertise to those early in their journey.

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