write about problems

{how to keep writing when you feel uninspired, part two}

intropart onepart three


Who wants to read a story about a perfect boy with a perfect life who never runs into any problems that would disrupt his perfect environment? I know I don’t. I’d rather read about a dynamic protagonist who has to overcome not only the external conflict of enemies and environmental hazards, but also his own faults and weaknesses. I want to read about conflict and how it is overcome.

The same goes for non-fiction. The articles and blog posts that really draw me in are the ones that address a problem. Sometimes I even find myself drawn to read articles solving a problem I will probably never face. They capture my attention because they tell a compelling story of overcoming difficulty. How much more likely am I to be drawn into a piece that directly addresses a problem I’ve encountered?

Figure out the conflict that your reader is facing, then write about the solution. In addition to making your writing more compelling, when you solve people’s problems for them, they begin to see you as an expert. One they can trust to go to with future problems.

How do you discover problems you can solve? Ask your readers!

Remember the first key to keeping yourself writing when you feel uninspired: {take the focus off of yourself} and consider who you are writing for. Ask them what they are struggling with and then address those struggles directly in what you write. Chances are, if one of your readers has a particular struggle, there are more people out there who have the same struggle and would be helped by your solution.

Another way to figure out a good problem to write about is to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Think back to when you were a beginner… What were some of the questions you had when you were starting out? If you write about painting, were you once overwhelmed by the sheer number of brushes in the art store? How did you learn to mix colors? Why do you now use one type of canvas or paper over another?

You can also ask yourself what your reader may be searching for online. What might she type into a search engine? Write the article that should be the top result for that search.

This idea of writing about problems (or conflict) goes for any kind of writing — fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry! Conflict resonates with people. It feels real to them because they’ve experienced it themselves, and reading about it offers hope of resolution.

So offer people some hope. Share the solutions they’re searching for. Write for them.