What should I write about?

In the second chapter in Rand's The Art of Nonfiction, she discusses choosing a subject or theme.  This chapter covers a number of topics, but one had the most impact for me - write about something meaningful to you, but within your context.

What should I write about?  First and foremost, I should be interested in the subject.  It should have meaning to me.  Two of my most popular posts on this blog were written on subjects that were extremely meaningful to me, Writing 5 Year Goals and the History of Information Systems.  Both topics had been on my mind at the time and the content just flowed out of me.  They perfectly fit within my context of knowledge and were high values in my life.  I enjoyed the process thoroughly.

Recently, however, I found myself struggling to complete a research article.  With a little introspection, I realized it was because my motivation for the subject had died.  It was no longer meaningful to me, even though I was capable and willing to finish it.  Luckily, I was able to inspire myself in other ways to finish it, but only after I identified my issues with motivation.  This is a good reason to finish a writing project as quickly as possible, because after time, your natural progression of interests may evolve and move on to other areas.  When this occurs, procrastinators will be left with a number of unfinished projects and possibly a dissatisfaction with the direction of their life.

On an email list I belong too, a number of bloggers noted a similar recurring problem.  They would create a list of great ideas for blog posts, but only follow through on a few of them.  This is not so much a problem with the bloggers, but with the list.  The list did not keep up with changing contexts and interests.  The post idea that sounded great today, may only be moderately interesting tomorrow, and old news by next week.  If a blogger did not finish the post immediately, there was danger that it will never be finished.  I have deleted a number of half finished posts from my queue for that very reason.  There may be different motivation level too, if I were getting paid to write.  But I'm not, so I might as well cut out the uninteresting as quickly as possible and move on to what really inspires me.

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