Out of Ideas? Start at Square One

Recently, I was writing some content for Constant Content, and I was stuck as to what I should write about. For some reason, I wanted to reach for some highly technical information, or a lengthy article about the intricate details of a technical subject. But nothing seemed right. Ah, writer’s block. It happens to us all. And for the most part, there isn’t much you can do about it but wait it out, go outside, get some fresh air, a new perspective…or is there? 

Something dawned on me as I was waiting for the perfect idea to come to my mind. My fields, outside of politics/history/law, are home and family, weight loss and nutrition, running, and a few similar areas. When I say “my fields”, I mean fields that I pretty much don’t have to do research on when writing most articles, because I’ve written so much about them and/or have first-hand experience with them. Crafts is another area where I can write for days without picking up a book. 

But why, then, was I out of ideas? 

Because I assumed that everyone knew what I did about the subject. I was looking to write about something that was new to me. But what I failed to realize was that, for people unfamiliar with my fields of expertise, pretty much everything I know is new to them. That’s why they’re looking for content on it. (Or why the people looking for content need it; i.e., they have a blog about pet care.) 

I thought, I wonder what will happen if I just write about the basics. The holidays are coming up. So I thought, why not write about how to keep kids safe on Halloween. Then I thought, what about sticking to your weight loss goals during the holidays. (I don’t have kids, but I’m a safety geek because I’m uber cautious – studying serial killers and criminology will do that to you – so that’s why the safety one was in my wheelhouse). What about writing about the new trends in Halloween decor. 

Oh, surely everyone knows that stuff. Who would want it? 

What happened? All three of them sold within as many days. 

I was absolutely floored. And suddenly, I was overwhelmed with ideas. (I currently have a spreadsheet that will probably get to be several hundred cells long – it’s a list of ideas to write about.) 

That’s several hundred articles I thought of ideas for, just by going to the basics. 

When we have a specialty, we often tend to assume that what is basic to us is basic information to everyone else, too. But most of the time, people searching for content or reading a consumer magazine or reading a blog on something – whatever it may be – are there because they’re looking for the basics. They want to get to know a subject better. They want information about whatever it is you’re writing about. 

If you’re an engineer, for instance, what is something you learned in Engineering 101? (I can’t give you an example because I know nothing about engineering – case in point.) Whatever you came up with, I guarantee you I don’t know a thing about it, and would love to read the article for information. 

There are also some advantages for you as a writer when you write about the basics. 

You Save Time

You save a lot of time by writing about the bare bone basics, because you probably won’t have to look up the information. Or if you do, maybe it’s just a few things here and there to refresh. For instance, another one of my specialties is psychology, specifically criminology, and I recently wrote about signs you’re dating a sociopath. That article sold in one day. I never thought it would, I just thought it was important to write about. 

It took me about 20 minutes to write that article and my net earnings from it were like $30. That’s pretty good. Which leads me to my next point. 

You Earn More

By writing about the basics within your field(s) of expertise, you earn more because you can write faster. The faster you can write, the more you can earn. So if you’re writing for a site like Constant Content, and I highly recommend you do, you can end up with a nice addition to your paycheck at the end of the month. 

Your Writing is Better

Let’s face it, writers specialize in writing, and that’s true – we can write about almost anything. Give us some time to research, and we can write about differential equations like a pro (okay maybe not, but you get the point). But our writing will lack something. It will be good – informational, maybe – but it will lack that sense of authority and in-depth knowledge that someone who has a real expertise in that area and can write will bring to it. 

When you write about what you know, you can speak with authority and it comes through in your writing. Writings I’ve done on things that I researched have been accepted by the editors at CC, but they haven’t sold yet. The three articles I mentioned in my opening sold within the first two or three views. Why? Probably because it showed that I knew what I was talking about, and because people needed basic information on that subject.

Your Life is Less Stressful 

I love to research, but if I can sit back and write about homemaking or weight loss all day, I’m going to be way less stressed. It no longer becomes an issue of “I hope I can find information on this subject and make this sound good,” but it becomes “Let’s see, what else do I know about that I can write in my sleep?” 

Now I’m not for a second saying you should never research. I think constantly finding new areas of interest to explore and learn about is vital for a writer to keep growing and getting better. It’s also a great way to come up with new areas of expertise. One of my favorite things to write and research about is ancient Egyptian history, because I’ve been reading about it since I was about 10. It fascinates me. But if I hadn’t picked up a book on it, I wouldn’t know anything about it. 

But, if you’re really having a rough week, try writing about things that are so basic to you that you could teach a 2-month webinar on it, or discuss it in-depth with your friend. 

Never Assume Disinterest

I find that one of the largest obstacles to my finding writing ideas is that little voice in my head that says “Nobody would be interested in that!” Wrong. Someone will be interested in it. 

In perusing the list of search topics and/or recently sold content on Constant Content, I’m always amazed at what sells. Not in a rude or condescending way, I just never would have thought that someone would buy an article or search for an article on dream interpretation, or the rita fish (what’s the rita fish?), or phases of the moon. Yet they sell. Regularly. 

Nothing is worse than thinking, “Oh, nobody would care about what King Tut’s tomb is like,” only to see “King Tut” in the recent search topics the next week on Constant Content. Better to write and submit it than assume someone won’t want it and find out they did. 

At the very least, you’re getting writing experience. I feel so confident about the articles I have on Constant Content because they’ve gone through a rigorous editing process. Some people get fed up with the editing process and being asked for changes, but I think that’s ridiculous. Editing is how we get better as writers. I’ve learned so much from the editors at Constant Content. And I know they take it seriously (I’ve had articles come back for a misplaced comma, no joke). So I know if they approve an article, it’s solid. And when I start seeing less revisions, I know I’m becoming a better writer. 

Are edits an inconvenience? Sometimes. But if your article isn’t up to par, it won’t sell, so they’re doing you a huge favor. Experience in writing is never a bad thing, and if it’s something you know about, can write about quickly and easily, can obtain editing on, and might even make some money for, why wouldn’t you? 

So if you’re out of ideas, start with the basics of what you know and what your areas of expertise are. You’d be amazed at who wants to find out the things that you think are common knowledge, or don’t strike you as impressive subjects. 🙂 

Do you have certain things you do to get ideas? Tell it in the comments! 

As always, happy writing, and God bless! 

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