Finding Something to Write About

I think one of the hardest parts about writing is finding something to write about, especially if you decide to start thinking of a topic at your computer. There’s nothing like that large, blank, white piece of paper staring back at you from the screen to drive all the ideas that were playing at the edge of your consciousness straight out of your mind. It’s the quickest way I know to get your mind to go completely and utterly blank.

When I go to bed at night I find it hard to fall asleep right away, so I’ve read a lot of articles on “sleep hygiene”. “Sleep hygiene” is all the things you can do to help yourself fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake feeling refreshed in the morning. There are a lot of articles out there. But they all start the same way, even if they use different words: Empty your mind, don’t think about all the things you meant to do that day and didn’t, don’t think about all the things that are wrong with your life and you need to fix, etc., etc., etc.

I’ve never been able to empty my mind. There’s always a thought or two buzzing around: I need to get the car washed tomorrow. I forgot to buy lox. I need to start rereading this book for my presentation to … You get the idea. My mind is busier when I’m trying to fall asleep at night than it is during the day when I can actually do something about these things.

So the one thing I’ve learned from all this is: Sitting down in front of that big, blank, white piece of paper on the screen is not where I should go when I’m looking for ideas.

I’m curious. When you’re looking for ideas for something to write about, what do you do? Where do you find the spark that gets you going?

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