You’re writing nonfiction, or you aspire to writing nonfiction. However, you want to choose a topic which sells. Why bother writing a book if no one will read it? On the other hand, if you don’t believe in your chosen topic, who will? You need to trust yourself, as I said in this article, Fast Nonfiction Book Ideas:
Here’s why trusting yourself is important: to write nonfiction, you need to have an angle — a slant, or a point of view, if you will. New writers haven’t developed trust in themselves, so they want to conform. This is death to your nonfiction — forget conforming. You don’t want to write an endless series of “me too” books. Your ideas, opinions, skills — everything that makes you who you are — are valuable. Use what you are.
Almost Any Topic Can Be Book-Worthy
Relax. Write about what you know. (And can research.) Here’s why. Any topic can be book-worthy, and it’s easier writing about what you know and enjoy, rather than a topic you’ve chosen solely because the topic sells.
When I suggest this to students, invariably they tell me that they’re boring. Nothing happens to them, so they have nothing to write about. You’ve always got things to write about.
Today, I write about writing, creativity, marketing and so on because it’s what I do. On a lifestyle level, I ghostwrite gardening and decorating articles for clients, because I garden, and I enjoy decorating. I enjoy learning more about these areas.
When my children were small, I wrote parenting articles, and contributed chapters to books on parenting, because that was the focus of my life at the time. I also wrote articles on food and wine, because I like cooking and eating, and a friend owns a vineyard.
Look around you. Write about what you see. What interests you? One student said she enjoys reading about celebrities. She’s a real estate agent in her non-writing life. Yet she told me she has “nothing to write about.” So I asked her some questions about celebrities and their homes, because I was curious. She couldn’t stop talking, and she come up with an excellent nonfiction book-worthy idea: “how to decorate like your favorite celebrity even if you’re on a budget.”
Another student who insisted he had nothing to write about is going through a painful and complicated divorce. It’s not a topic he enjoys. However, he’s got a lot to say on the topic, and he’s researched deeply. He’s joined a single-parents group, he goes to therapy, and he talks to his lawyer. Once he started thinking about the topic, he developed several excellent, and nonfiction book-worthy, ideas within minutes.
When You’re Writing, One Thing Leads to Another
Book projects tend to morph, as you’re writing them. This applies to both nonfiction, and fiction. When you start writing, you’re exploring a topic. You may be half-way through the book before you realize: what I really want to write is THIS. You’ve gone off at a tangent, and you know, deep in your soul, that this new topic is book-worthy. That’s fine.
If you’re writing fiction, it’s almost guaranteed that despite your careful outlining, when you’re halfway through your novel, it will take off in a new direction. Writing begets writing.
Therefore, even if you’re not certain whether or not an idea is book-worthy, start writing. Commit to writing for half an hour or an hour a day, whatever you can manage. Expect your book to morph. Allow the new direction, if it makes sense to you. If it doesn’t rein yourself in, and go in the direction which seems right to you.
When you look around you, you’ll find endless topics for nonfiction, and many will be book-worthy. Start with your interests, and experiences. You never know. You may be writing a nonfiction bestseller.
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