Short Fiction: “I want to write, but I don’t know what to write about”

By Dennis Mellersh

If you are in the beginning stages of the process of becoming a writer (perhaps of short fiction) you may be somewhat discouraged because you “don’t know what to write about.”

You may be questioning whether you have what it takes to be a writer, because after all, don’t real writers know from the beginning of their writing careers the themes or subjects they want to pursue in their writing?

Not necessarily.

At the begging of their careers, many now prominent writers did not have a preference for either subject matter, or the type of fiction they wanted to pursue.

Some established writers may have been driven by specific themes at the beginning of their learning the art of writing short fiction, but for many they just knew inside that they wanted to write – their themes would develop as they progressed in process of learning to write.

For example, in discussing his university education, fiction writer Ian McEwan told The Paris Review, “I was beginning to feel excited about writing. As is often the case, my wish to be a writer preceded any clear notion of subject matter.”

And, there are many other examples of successful writers who tried out different formats of literature, and different themes or subjects, before they settled most of their attention on the category that appealed most to them, and which they seemed to have a talent for.

If you have settled on short fiction as the writing format you want to specialize in, or start with, you have already accomplished a major step in the process of becoming a writer.

Now you can focus on learning the craft of writing short stories, novellas, flash fiction; whatever sub-specialty of short fiction interests you the most as a beginner writer.

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