How I Come Up With Writing Topics

This Week In Writing, we explore topic generation while celebrating the best damn band in the land!

How I Come Up With Writing Topics
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on stage | Photo by the Author

Sunday night, I crossed an item off my bucket list: seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live and in concert. It was, to put it mildly, incredible.

The show was wall-to-wall music, with Springsteen on stage for three hours. According to an online setlist, the legendary E Street Band played 27 songs. Pretty impressive for a bunch of people in their 70s.

I’ve been a Springsteen fan for as long as I can remember. Being from South Jersey, it’s probably in my blood. Over the years, Springsteen has also provided writing inspiration.

In 2019, I distilled writing advice from Springsteen’s autobiography. Part of the advice was so good I included a version of it as the final chapter in my book. Fitting, too, because I wrote most of the book listening to Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Last week, someone in My Writing Community asked how I determine topics to write about. It’s a question a lot of writers struggle with. Though, I also think it’s a question that’s really easy to overthink. And, trust me, I speak from experience as a classic overthinker.

The topics are all around us; we just have to be open to observing them.

Springsteen’s influence on my creativity is a perfect example. While reading his book, I picked up on specific themes that I thought would resonate with fellow writers. They were points that I found interesting and figured others would, too. I do this often. It’s a way to draw connections between two ideas.

For example, I typically write about writing. With that as a frame, it’s a matter of finding interesting connections in things I read, watch, and experience. 95% of this newsletter is the result of connecting those dots in a way that provides value to the reader (that’s you!).

Following this pattern can provide fellow writers with an endless supply of ideas. I’ve never been one to sit down and wonder what I’m going to write about next. Instead, I wonder how I can connect my ideas with something unexpected to present something in a new way.

Did I do that today? Let me know. How do you come up with topics to write about? Sound off in the comments, and let’s learn from each other.

Speaking Of My Writing Community…

My Writing Community — a Discord group built with Eric Pierce, Gretchen Alice, Sinem Günel, and Zulie Rane — launched last week. It’s been so much fun connecting with you all!

Since launching, we’ve had conversations about our dream projects, building a business, and how to promote our writing. Oh, and this entire issue resulted from a suggestion from Catilina (thank you!).

You can join My Writing Community by upgrading to a paid subscription to This Week In Writing. Not only do you support my work, but you can access this awesome community. Plus, we’re getting ready to start our first book club!

Join us as we read through and discuss Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. The private #book-club channel is open now and will culminate with our live audio chat on March 2.

Want to know about all the fun you’re missing? You can temporarily join My Writing Community with a free preview account for the next few days.

Speaking Of Fun…

I’m going on vacation! There might not be an issue of This Week In Writing next week. One of two things is likely going to happen:

  1. I will have so much fun that I forget to write the newsletter.
  2. I will have so much fun and be inspired by so many things that I have to write the newsletter.

We’ll see how it all plays out. Either way, I’ll see you soon.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!