Monday, April 4, 2016


Question: I want to write a book, but I have too many ideas, and I can’t settle on one genre. What should I do?

Writers are interesting people. We love to read. We love ideas. We have many interests. It’s amazing that any of us can settle on one topic long enough to finish a whole book.

Think about personal experiences. Most of us have had many painful experiences in our lives. Start from there. Write about a time in your life when something happened that changed you. Write about how you are different. Personal experiences are a great place to start.

Keep a journal. Natalie Goldberg tells her students not to start writing a book until they have kept a personal journal for at least two years. Then she tells them to read the journal, pick out entries to be developed into longer pieces, and go from there. I didn’t think I could write a memoir because I had so much hurt. (I’m autistic. When I grew up in the 1950’s we were considered different and sometimes even delinquent. My mother and two grade school teachers tried to beat the autism out of me.) I found a beginning for writing about this in my journal entries.

As a college study skills teacher, I discovered many fun ways to learn. I’ve discovered in the notes I wrote for teaching college classes, a possible book. If I hadn’t put these ideas in study plans, they could have gone into my journal.

My advice is start writing in your journal about some of your ideas. Then after a year or two start rereading those journals. Pull out similar entries and start a manuscript.

While Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron suggest writing a journal longhand, I have a computer journal. I can cut and paste entries into new documents that become articles.

Keep journaling. I hope this helps it works for me, and i have a similar problem.