I wanted to take a moment to write about ideas. It seems sometimes as though ideas are little objects that fly around like the snitch in Harry Potter and cannot be caught. But I would disagree. Recently I’ve noticed more than ever how prevalent ideas are – if you know where to look.
Every day I go through almost the same routine. I get up, I make coffee (I love coffee), I go to work for a few hours where I work as an Instructional Assistant in Special Education, mainly working with children who have autism, I run, and then I come home and write. I also go to church, bowl, read a lot of books, and write fiction in my spare time. I also compose music, garden, and run a handmade crafts business. Yawn, right?
Not so much.
I think too many writers make a distinction between their life and their work/writing. But I don’t believe a distinction exists.
I know a lot of people say to write what you know, and only what you know. If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know I wholly reject that notion. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write what you know – just that you shouldn’t limit yourself to it.
In my day I’m exposed to coffee types, how to brew coffee, special education, working with autistic children, nutrition, fitness, distance running, book reviews, music theory, running a crafts business, gardening…..there are a ton of ideas I can write about. Many of them off the top of my head, because they are things I have experience in.
Dig into the Past
Not only are ideas in the present, but ideas are in the past, too. I used to work in corporate sales, got my degree in Political Science, had my insurance license for a time, and have also worked in human resources. Talk about a ton of ideas.
Moreover, I took the LSAT and have been studying law for awhile debating on whether or not I wanted to pursue law as a career. Even though I haven’t jumped in yet, all that studying is knowledge, knowledge is information, and – if you haven’t pieced it together – as freelance writers we are in the business of information dealing.
Think Beyond the Obvious
I have my degree in Political Science, so I can write about politics. (Not that you or someone else can’t, just that if you’re pulling from personal experience and you have a degree in a subject, that would be an obvious go-to.)
But what else can I write about given that same piece of information?
How about college. How to make your schedule, how to deal with course loads, studying techniques, balancing work and school. If you’ve been to college, or even high school, you have a ton of information.
It might seem strange that people would need content on that, but they do. Think educational programs, college websites and blogs, career training centers, and more.
Nothing is Unimportant
If you think to yourself “Oh, nobody’s going to want to know about that,” think again.
Most of you know I write for Constant Content sometimes and submit articles to them. They have this handy little ticker that shows you what people are searching for, and what article titles have recently sold.
If you ever needed proof that people need content on literally everything, go there and check it out. Watch it for awhile.
I’ve seen articles sell on really random topics. Things that I would think nobody would ever search for. Even I’ve sold articles that I never thought would actually sell, like my article on how to pick out a ripe pineapple. (I mean really.)
If all you know about is underwater basket weaving and a rare bird species in Africa, you have enough to write at least two dozen articles. No joke.
Take it from Every Angle
I like to make an idea board on my whiteboard. If I have a topic I know I can write about, I make a chart or an idea graph to show myself all the angles I can write from.
So I’ll put something like “handmade crafts” in the middle.
From that I can come up with all sorts of things. Handmade crafts business, how to sell handmade crafts, crafts that are good for beginners, tips within each craft I do, how to make certain gifts, which craft types are good for different holidays, ways to get your kids involved in crafts, how to market your crafts, craft types in different cultures, crafting for your pets, and so on.
Go down the list of categories on Constant Content and see if you can take each category and apply it to your general topic, even if you’re not submitting it to CC. (They have a good list of categories.)
Pets? Crafting items for your pet. Movies? Items in movies that were handmade. Science? The science behind yarn dying. The list goes on and on.
Learn from Life
Your life teaches you many things, and those lessons are beneficial to other people. Start mining your life for ideas and you’ll start to see what’s right in front of you. Make a list of everything you do during the day. If you have the time, make a list of the products you use regularly. (Hello, product reviews!)
You’ll be surprised just how many ideas are all around you!
Until next time, happy writing! Let us know if you’ve ever mined your life and ended up with a great writing idea!