How to Create a List of Writing Topics (From What You’ve Been Avoiding Writing About Lately)

I want to break down a simple tool for brainstorming a list of writing topics that you feel you’ve been avoiding lately.

“Avoidance” is the lens through which my course students examine their writing practices and self-expression philosophy in Unavoidable Writing ($274). This 40-lesson program is a guided experience into conscious creativity.

From my years teaching thousands of writers (and being a professional writer and author for the last decade, myself), I’ve found no surer pathway for personal learning and creative growth than looking into the heart of the icky, uncomfortable subject of we’ve been avoiding the most lately.

Today, I’ll teach you how to create a list of the top 10 writing subjects you’ve been avoiding writing about lately.

This creative “hit-list” is the first step toward shattering stuckness, writer’s block, and the creative discomfort that’s holding you back from expressing your voice fully.

Step #1: Ask yourself, “What have I been avoiding lately?”

This generic question is foundational for lowering inner barriers and self-protective walls. These are the very structures that insulate our creative selves from experiencing flowing, uninhibited self-expression. You’ll want to catch your answers on paper, so grab your journal and ask yourself,

“What is it that I have been avoiding lately?”

Have you been avoiding watching the news? Making up with a friend after a petty argument? Starting a brand new health regimen?

Come up with anywhere from 1 to 5 subjects, right away. You know you’re onto something when the idea stirs up a subtle unease in your belly. We’re trying to tap that discomfort for clues, so that we can dissolve it through writing!

Step #2: Turn your avoidance list into possible questions. Come up with 1-3 questions based on each feeling of avoidance that uncovered in the previous step!

Now that you have a list of things that you feel like you’ve been avoiding lately, we have some data points for further exploration. What we’ll now do is brainstorm a few possible questions stemming from what we’ve been avoiding lately.

Example #1) “I’ve been avoiding watching the news. It’s too stressful.”

  • What about watching the news has felt so stressful to me?
  • What would I rather do with my time than feel subjected to that anxiety?
  • Is avoiding the news actually revealing to me how much I care about a topic, issue or idea, specifically?

Example #2) “I’ve been avoiding reaching out to reconnect with my friend since our falling out.”

  • What has felt so uncomfortable about trying to reconcile with her?
  • Am I expecting her to make the first move? Am I willing to hold out and wait, possibly forever?
  • Is avoiding this situation showing me something that I can learn from and grow as a person, regardless of the outcome with my friend?

Example #3) “I’ve been avoiding starting my new health regimen, even though I said I’d start on October 1st.”

  • What’s holding me back from fully giving myself to this new health regimen?
  • Why did I want to start this new health regimen in the first place? Did my intended start date really matter at all?
  • Am I avoiding starting this new health regimen because I’m afraid I can’t maintain it?

Step #3: Morph your list of self-reflective questions into a shortlist of writing topics, subject lines, or titles.

Here’s where you have to get creative.

Using the above questions that you’ve raised to yourself, turn each question into a statement.

Poof! Your list of writing topics comes to life as potential subject lines or titles for pieces of writing that you can personally journal, or even share on social media or a personal blog.

Here’s how you might morph the above questions into writing topics for further exploration:

  1. Why watching the news has felt more stressful than it’s worth.
  2. How I’m still paying attention to world events, without staying glued to the nightly news.
  3. It hurts to watch, so here’s what issues I’m re-dedicating myself to politically.
  4. We fought. It still hurts. And I’m not willing to say I’m sorry, yet.
  5. I know I should be the bigger person.
  6. Being right is not as important to me as being compassionate and humble, even if the latter is so much harder.
  7. I want my body back. I’m afraid I might never get it back.
  8. This is about feeling strong and confident in my own skin.
  9. I have a fear of success. I’m afraid I’ll just let myself down.

And there you have it, dear writer!

What did you come up with for your own list of writing topics?

And remember, you can visit UnavoidableWriting.com at any time to review full details on the course, check out recent student testimonials and case studies, or register now for full lifetime access for just $274.

Thanks for reading, my friend!

Yours in writing,

Dave Ursillo
Creator of Unavoidable Writing

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