I Want To Write But I Don’t Know What To Write About

William Cho
4 min readApr 3, 2022


I want to write something meaningful.

But what does that mean, exactly?

My first attempt to articulate what that means is that I want to write something that comes from the heart. By “heart” I mean that I want to write something that taps into my emotions.

When I write, I try to see if I resonate with the words I’m using. By “resonate” I mean that the words I write gives form to the unexpressed, formless potential within my mind that calls out for articulation.

What the hell does that mean?

Think about what a “thought” is. What is it exactly? It doesn’t necessarily have a material form. You can’t see it. You can’t locate where exactly it exists. Yet you know that the thought “exists” because you see it in your mind.

The thought is latent potential — it does not exist until you give it form. How does one give a thought a form? Since we can’t telepathically send thoughts to each other, we seem to only have two options: speak or write.

Only when we attempt to precisely and carefully formulate and articulate our thoughts through speaking or writing do we truly realize how difficult the task really is.

Using writing as an example, we find that our thoughts are messy and are not transferred easily from mind to paper. Why does this happen? Aren’t the thoughts in your mind? Didn’t you feel some sort of confidence when you first sat down to write the essay? Why don’t we have the ability to articulate exactly what is in our minds?

We also find out that our vocabulary is fairly limited, which impedes our ability to communicate what we’re really thinking or feeling. That means we can’t communicate to other people what we really want to say, which is frustrating for all parties involved and can lead to confusion and misinterpretations.

Even writing this piece is incredibly frustrating, partly because I can’t find the words that truly convey what I want to convey, and partly because I’m not really sure where I’m going with this piece.

Maybe the latter reason is why I’m trekking along on this steep descent. Why am I writing this? What do I want to communicate?

I started writing this because I wanted to write about something but I didn’t know what it was. But I was puzzled by my motivation to write, especially when I didn’t necessarily have any explicit thought to write about.

Ironically, the act of trying to figure out what to write about by writing about it led me to write about something.

The process itself felt like I was experiencing circumambulation — walking around in a circle in search of the center. I didn’t feel like I was getting any closer with every word I typed, yet I felt as if I needed to keep walking to see where it would lead. I can’t say whether I’ve gotten closer or further from the center. But I feel as if I’ve arrived back to where I started with just a bit more insight into my mind.

Maybe the seemingly endless roaming was necessary for me to realize that I didn’t necessarily need to end up in another destination, that the answer did not lie elsewhere. Maybe the journey helped me realize that what I initially set out to look for was always at the beginning, but I wouldn’t have been able to come to that realization if I had not set out to search for it in the first place.

And I’ve got an essay, which is what I was looking for to begin with.

Most, if not all, readers may find this piece puzzling, useless, or both. I’m trying to determine what it means to me. But I think it is symbolic of the process of writing, of articulating your thoughts. You never really quite know what you want to write until you sit down and attempt to write something.

Maybe you have to wander around in circles and arrive where you first started your journey, only to realize that what you were looking for was always within you and was only discoverable by you setting out to search for it.

Perhaps it feels like a breakthrough for me because I’ve been plagued with the pressure to write about subjects that are insightful, inspirational, or valuable. No one asked me to do this — I realize it’s a self imposed expectation, a self inflicted wound.

Whenever the wound would attempt to heal by scabbing (by erasing expectations and writing about whatever I wanted to write about), I would pick at it until it exposed the skin again — guising it as a need to be a “perfectionist” who only publishes “quality writing”.

Ironically, a writer who only publishes “quality” writing may become a poor writer because of their lack of practice. How will the writer know what good quality writing is if they never write bad quality writing?

How will they know if their writing is any good in the first place if they’ve never been confronted with criticism?

So maybe the way to treat this wound is to allow myself to write about things that I personally find compelling, interesting, and meaningful without having unreasonable and burdensome expectations.

It’s funny how you can forget such obvious things sometimes.



William Cho

If you want to ask me a question or simply want to talk: @ohc.william@gmail.com. I also write about a variety of other topics on greaterwillproject.com!