A question I often see is "how do you figure out what to write about?" Obviously, ideas are all around you, but one thing I've noticed is that people who have the most trouble coming up with writing topics are bogged down worrying about what they "should" do.
In every case, there is no one "right" way to write. For example, you can blog in many ways. Often worrying about "what to write about" will stop people from starting a blog or writing anything at all.
When it comes to a blog, remember the term started out as shorthand for "Web log." In other words, a blog is personal and can be as individual as you are. You don't necessarily have to stick to topics or themes or even worry much about what to write, particularly if you are doing a lot of other writing. For example, I have two blogs that are used for different purposes.
On my Logical Expressions blog (http://blog.logicalexpressions.com) I mostly use it to point to other articles I have written. So unlike most people, I rarely write original articles for the blog. Most of my articles are written for my Publishize newsletter and archived at http://newsletter.logicalexpressions.com. The blog has announcements that point to my newsletter articles or articles on some of our other Web sites. It also has the occasional personal rant, when I get fired up about something that doesn't fit in one of my newsletters.
On the other hand, the blog attached to my pet rescue site is the archive for my newsletter articles (http://www.naprp.com/Blog/tabid/65/Default.aspx)
Although many blogs do have "themes" not all of them do. It depends a lot on your goals and the other sites you have (which, in my case, is admittedly quite a few).
If you are struggling to come up with article topics, stop fretting. Worry and anxiety are the enemies of creativity. Ideas are everywhere. For example, stop and think about the last thing you read, or the last person you talked to either on the phone or in person. What was it about? Now think about how that topic or story can be tied into an educational or informative article. The last thing I read was the back cover copy of the Phantom Tollbooth, which is sitting on my counter. Talk about fodder for creative ideas!
Although I read a lot, I also use email and post on discussion boards. Questions you have answered via email or online are another great starting points for articles. In fact, two paragraphs of this article came from a posting I made in the SPAWNDiscuss group. Look back through your responses. Even if you can just repurpose only a sentence or two, it can make the difference between having an article idea and not having one.
Coming up with an idea for an entire book obviously requires more thought and considerably more research. You want to write about a topic that you are both extremely interested and emotionally invested in, and that has as little competition as possible. For example, my book Funds to the Rescue: 101 Fundraising Ideas for Humane and Animal Rescue Groups is the result of conversations with many people involved in pet rescue. Every one of them wants to raise more money. I looked into it and there was only one other book that even touches on the subject. And thus a book idea was born!
With a book idea, you want to come up with a framework and your own "take" on the subject. I have another book idea that simply isn't ready because I haven't figured out how to tie my ideas together into a framework that makes sense in book format. Again, don't fret about it. Worrying doesn't help. Sometimes big ideas only happen when you are ready for them.
Thinking of Writing a Book? Get Help.
If you are struggling to get your non-fiction book done, it's probably for one of a few simple reasons. Published authors aren't really any different than you. Writing a book is not magic. However, published authors have found ways to overcome common writing problems, so they have bookshelves full of their books. Once you know how to write a non-fiction book, writing more books is easy. If you know you want to complete a book, check out our Write Your Book page to find out how we can help you realize your dream of becoming a published author. Fill out the Book Completion Questionnairefor a consultation about your book project.