Finding the Right Topic: A Guide to Deciding If Your Writing Idea is Worth Pursuing
In the age of TikTok videos and gaming, writing still remains an important way for us to communicate ideas and key messages with each other. And to be inclusive in our content, some audiences prefer to read rather than watch videos.
But speaking of ideas, how do we know that we've got a good idea to write about?
How do we know if there's a way to tell whether an idea is worth pursuing? And what if there was a way to know how many people would actually be interested in the product you're thinking of selling?
Because writing is also a time-consuming process, and you want to make sure that you're investing your time and energy in the right idea.
In this article, I'll show you my process of testing whether an idea is a good idea or not. Keep reading to find out now.
Know why you’re writing and who you’re writing for
What is the goal of your project? Do you have a clearly defined target audience? What’s the first thing your audience will see or read?
These are not just questions that marketers and PR professionals need to think about. Whatever it is you're about to write, you are writing it for a specific purpose and specifically for someone out there. Especially if you're going to publish your writing online, whether that's website copy, social media captions, thought leadership articles etc.
And particularly if you're writing for impactful causes, then also think about whether your goal is to raise awareness on a topic, foster community building or drive a specific call to action.
Because if your readers don’t know what your goal is, your writing won’t get as much attention and interest as you originally hoped for.
For example, if you're writing a blog post about active ageing, there's no doubt that you want to attract readers. But that's not enough. You also need to understand what aspects of active ageing those readers care about and what they want and expect from your content.
Try to think beyond the usual demographic information, like gender and age range. Visualize what your audiences look like and how they think.
What are their preferences? What kind of language will make them nod their heads as they read your writing? What kind of tone should you use in your writing to achieve that recognition? Serious or fun? Informative or entertaining? Formal or casual?
So, pull out a sticky note or open a new word document and write down your “why” and “who”. Then write down “how” your writing can achieve your “why” and “who”. Whenever you feel lost in writing, these notes will help you remember your goals and allow you to stay grounded in your idea.
Write down what the penultimate version of your idea will look like
So, by now you've probably also done some research and you feel like it's time to start writing that first draft out. Time is ticking...But before you do that, write down what the penultimate version of your idea will look like.
Because up until now, your idea only exists in your mind, and it sounds awesome. It's going to work when you can just bang out that first draft.
But quite often, what sounds awesome in our minds can turn out quite differently in reality. So, spare yourself the disappointment and spend a few minutes writing down that penultimate version.
The most important thing about writing is that you can explain what your idea is (and how it works) clearly so that other people can understand it too.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy. You can write out a simple outline or just a few important bullet points that you can't miss out on.
This step is crucial because when you're writing, it's easy to get lost in the details. You may think you know exactly what you want to say, but once you start writing, things can change.
And having your vision written out in black and white can help you focus on what you want to achieve while writing out the details along the way.
Test your ideas
Wait....we’ve got one more step to go before we can start investing time and energy to write the first draft just.
"But, why? I've done my research, I've got my 'why' and 'who', AND I've written down my penultimate vision...I feel beyond ready to write."
There's one more step to take before you start investing your time in the first draft. And this step refers to what I mentioned before – that what sounds awesome in our minds can turn out quite differently in reality.
The "final" step to know whether your idea is worth pursuing or not is to test it out with other people and adjust based on the feedback you get. Get feedback from a few trusted sources who can help you refine your idea further before you start writing in earnest.
For me, when I write for a client, I will send them an outline before I start writing a first draft and get some initial feedback first. There's an aspect of expectation management from my side. But it's also an effective way to see if what I have in mind also sounds awesome to other people.
Depending on the situation, sometimes I can’t test it out with my client. But I'll ask other people I trust, like my mentor, boyfriend and even my mum, to help me test my idea out.
This is a way to test my idea, especially when I know my target audience doesn't know a lot about the topic I'm going to write about. Most often, they'll be able to tell me what makes sense, what doesn't and what needs further explanation.
As harrowing as this step seems, sometimes the feedback you get might even be “So, what’s the point of this?” That’s when you know you need to go back to your “why” and “who” and adjust your “how” before you start writing.
What's great about testing your idea is that, even after you've written a first draft, you can keep testing it with your people.
Because writing, like any art form, is subjective. What makes sense to you might not make sense to others. This is also why I include a couple of rounds of revisions in my project fees.
So, keep asking for feedback so that you can dial into your ideas further to make your writing sound clearer and more effective.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio / pexel.com