Have you run out of ideas to write about? You might be ravaging magazines, reading books and articles, beating yourself up in the pursuit of inspiration. How do you finally decide on a topic?

Photo by Adobe of Chaos

Photo by Adobe of Chaos

It’s interesting to note that past and over-explored themes keep coming up in new writing, like: world wars, civil wars, racial discrimination, idealized love affairs, and romanticized train journeys etc. etc.

Idealizing the Past

All the mentioned topics are interesting and it seems they have a bigger appeal because they happened in the past, a time marked in literature, history, film. Yet, only because those times seem far away and something not personally witnessed it doesn’t mean the present should be annulled.

You own the present, and living it should consequentially shape up majority of the stories you write. What seems boring to you now may sound intriguing to the future generations.

Marking the Zeitgeist

The Zeitgeist (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought which typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time.

Defined as such, it almost reads as a responsibility of the writer (or any artist, for that matter) to portray the culture of his/her age.

There’s so much to be captured anyhow: high technology, globalisation, the boom of new media, modern politics, international relations, global warming, mobbing, modern social problems and so on. Add the universal themes (loss, love, fear, death) to your unique personal experiences and personality/talent to the previous and the result is—capturing the Zeitgeist.

That’s all there is to it really: present reality portrayed by a personal point of view, through unique lenses, and fictionalized as wished.

As publishing (self-publishing that is) booms rapidly, if many do capture the Zeitgeist, perhaps our time will be known as a special movement. Information Age maybe? I guess it’s time to hurry up and provide up-to-date writing to justify the name.

Are you writing about the present? What are your thoughts on Zeitgeist movements?


Write for fifteen minutes about a situation that happened to you today. It doesn’t matter if it’s mundane; the only criterion is to be current and portray the present culture. Feel free to fictionalize as many elements as necessary to add flavour to the story. Also, if you post, be sure to comment on a few practices by other readers.

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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