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I Want to Write, but What Do I Write About?

There is an “I Love Lucy” episode titled “Lucy Writes A Novel”. Ethel visits Lucy while Lucy is typing and Ethel asks her what she is doing. Lucy responds, “Writing a novel”. Ethel is surprised and asks her what she is writing about and Lucy responds, “Things I know.” Ethel’s classic line, “That’s not a novel, it’s a short story”

There is an old adage that says, ‘write what you know’. I would say, ‘write what you are passionate about’. I’ve always had a love for Victorian London; Jack the Ripper, Scotland Yard, Sherlock Holmes, the dark, foggy nights. All of it intrigued me. My book Eliza Jane is set in that era. But in order to write about it, I needed more than just what I knew. It took years of research, fact finding how they dressed, what they ate, what businesses were around, the laws, their daily routines, the roles of women, and so on.

Lucy’s mistake was she wrote what she knew, changing some details and (although not very well), changed the name of the characters. Writing is more than just putting words into sentences. In fiction, there has to be substance, relatable characters, emotions and a page turning plot. In non-fiction, there has to be not only facts, but emotion. Who do you want the reader to get to know; to feel for; to root for or to hate? Or if you want to write a “How To” book, you need to know your subject better than anyone else and with information not found anywhere else. Or if you overcame an event and wish to write about it, not only will you write about your experience, but you may want to consider doing a survey or a questionnaire and put some statistics in your story.

Keep in mind, writing a book can be a daunting project. So, for a first time writer, I say start small. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Write an article for a local newspaper. It can be a restaurant review, a community event or a self-help article. I started with writing little snip-its in my parish bulletin. Since I sell Mary Kay Cosmetics, they were about the importance of good skin care, use of sunscreen and self-care. I also wrote about mental health.

  • Write a short story and submit it to a magazine. I submitted to Woman’s Weekly years ago. One was published, three were rejected. And that’s to be expected. There are so many out there to submit to. I currently write for which is an online site. The stories and articles cover physical and mental health issues.

  • Enter a writing contest. They are usually short stories (usually under 1000 words) with a specific topic. This will be helpful as you learn the importance of word count and staying with one subject matter. Many, many years ago, I won 3rd place in an erotic story writing contest.

The idea of getting started is to get your work out there. Whether it’s published or rejected, people are reading your work and some even give feedback. Step out of your comfort zone.

Next week I will share a bit about how and where to submit your work and what to look out for.

Until next time…


“Lucy Writes A Novel”, I Love Lucy, Season 3, Episode 24, Desi-lu Studio, 1954

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