Today’s post is written by Krissy Brady, a semi-finalist in the Write It Sideways regular contributor search. Thanks, Krissy!
One fear many writers have when they begin building a freelance writing career is the fear of running out of ideas.
While I used to find thinking of salable ideas to be an intimidating process, I now embrace it and have a lot of fun with it.
The best part about searching for writing ideas is that you get to look at life in a whole new way: every detail of your life and those of the lives around you become important; your mind is open to entirely new experiences (including negative ones), and this openness enhances your creativity in a profound way.
Sometimes, you will struggle to think of new ideas, and others, you will be overwhelmed with creative bursts where you may think of 20 new ideas in one sitting.
For the times where you are feeling as if there is a wall between you and your creativity, here are just some of the ways you can open the vault again, and successfully fill your idea arsenal.
1. Job experience.
This is an especially great option for those writers who don’t have published writing clips yet. At the end of your query letter, where a writer is supposed to mention their previous experience, you can use your job experience as a way to show that you are perfect to write the article.
However, if your job is one that you don’t enjoy or simply find ‘okay’, regardless of how much writing material you can scoop from it, I recommend you run. Run away as fast as you can and only write about what you are most passionate about. There are reasons why you want to leave your current job and move on to your dream writing career, and these reasons should be left behind with your cubicle.
2. Personal experiences and challenges.
This is my absolute favorite way to think of new article ideas. Your personal experiences, both the positive experiences and new discoveries you can’t wait to share, as well as the not-so-positive experiences you’ve had to go through can make for fantastic material.
Especially in terms of negative experiences you’ve overcome or still need to overcome: you can use your writing to research and improve your life, while simultaneously improving the lives of your readers, connecting with them on a personal level, and fulfilling various needs in your niche.
3. Magazines and Newspapers
Reading magazines published from the niche market you are most interested in writing for serves three purposes:
- It helps you familiarize yourself with the publication and its style/approach.
- If you already have a few ideas compiled, you can check to make sure your idea or a similar one hasn’t already been published.
- You can study what has already been written and create ‘spin-off’ ideas, writing articles that expand upon certain concepts that were mentioned but not looked into deeply. In the process, this exercise has the potential to spark completely new concepts for future articles.
Because publications are planned so far in advance, newspapers aren’t the greatest source for finding ideas that can be immediately used—by the time a magazine is able to publish the idea it wouldn’t be considered news anymore.
However, by reading and learning about what is going on in the news, you can create articles on generalized topics or on specific themes, and bookmark those people and businesses who have been in the news as interesting interview subjects for the future.
4. Social networking accounts.
Those you follow online via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be a treasure trove of information for you to find new writing ideas.
People tend to be an open book through their social networking accounts, so be sure to keep an eye on discussions that seem to blossom without warning; these could make very interesting human-interest pieces and feature articles.
5. Online forums you participate in.
The whole point to forums is to build online relationships, network and provide feedback to each other. If you were to follow online forums that cater to your target demographic, it is virtually impossible to visit and not find at least one viable idea to write about.
Once a week, I browse through the forums I participate in, and check to see if new questions or requests for advice have been posted. If one person has asked the question, there are almost certainly other people who want the answer too, but are unsure where to ask/look. You can provide the answers through your writing projects, and simultaneously build your publishing credits.
Ideas are everywhere, and these are just some of the places you can use to exercise your brainstorming skills. When you keep your mind open to any and all experiences (making sure to have some sort of note taking system on hand for when the ideas begin pouring out), you will end up with so many new ideas you won’t even know where to begin (which would call for an entirely new blog post).
Krissy Brady is a freelance writer located in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada. She is a blogger dedicated to keeping the passion for writing alive, and is currently working on her first novel, poetry collection and screenplay. To learn more and keep in touch with Krissy, visit her blog at krissybrady.com, and follow her through RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the latest writing-related information.
Join the discussion
Rose Byrd says
I say “double ditto” to all five of these places to get more ideas for essays, etc. I have found that when I start viewing the grumps and complaints( that SEEM so trivial coming from people around me) as exciting springboards for writing, my fingers just won’t let me stop on the keyboard!
Krissy Brady, Writer says
I am the exact same way! Even the smallest, most insignificant thing happening can jumpstart a new article/essay for me. Sometimes, I end up with so many new ideas I don’t know which one to start working on first! 🙂
Sarah Baughman says
Good topic, Krissy! The social networking point has been a relatively new discovery for me, but I have gotten quite a bit of inspiration from my Twitter feed…reminding me of how much I’m interested in writing about after all!
Krissy Brady, Writer says
Thanks Sarah! The same thing has happened to me too–it’s a great way to scan for trends and interesting topics, and has really expanded my mind in terms of just how much there is to write about.
Cindy Huff says
I agree. Great reminders. One incident can spur ideas for an article from lots of different angles.