Developing a Focus

April 30, 2022 by Eileen Wirth

You may spend years trying to find your writing focus without realizing you’ve done it until you’re well into it. 

And that’s wonderful! Don’t obsess over finding a focus when you’re young, because if you explore many fields, eventually a focus is likely to find you. 

Occasionally someone gets lucky early in life. One of my alums came home from studying in Great Britain obsessed with cricket. After he discovered that Indian and Pakistani immigrants were forming cricket leagues everywhere, he started writing about them when no one else was. But this is unusual.

People often tell young writers to write about things they know. I say you should write about anything that sounds remotely interesting to learn something about as many things as possible. Explore! You can write about what you know later. 

Start by writing about local things and people. Look for local tie-ins with national trends in any field – food, fashion, music, social activities, political activism etc. People love learning how to find “in” activities in their own area. 

Find local people doing cool things. You might get lucky. When Conor Oberst of the band Bright Eyes was a young musician in Omaha, who thought he would become a big deal nationally? A few folks who found him in local music venues. 

Take clues from what readers respond to. If you get tons of “likes” for your post on your first month of going vegan, try another and then branch out into healthy cooking and eating. 

And who says your “focus” has to be profitable, especially at first?  Start writing about your passion as a hobby and try turn it into a paying career later. 

Don’t put yourself into a box too early because boxes tend to reflect the present, not the future. Don’t risk passing up that developing future by narrowing your horizons too soon. 

Above all, have fun! That’s so much more important than developing a premature focus. Let your focus find you! 

Eileen Wirth

Dr. Eileen Wirth is a professor emeritus of journalism at Creighton University and is an author specializing in Omaha history. She was a reporter at the World-Herald and a PR Writer for Union Pacific before joining Creighton in 1991. Eileen’s books include The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Historic Omaha Houses of Worship and From Society Page to Front Page. She is on the board of History Nebraska and a member of the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Women’s Journalism Hall of Fame, and the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame. She also has been active in numerous groups particularly the Omaha Public Library.

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