Whether you write for a living or just for fun, you will need to come up with some ideas. This is needed for articles, blog posts, website content and fictional plots. The problem is that you constantly need to come up with new ideas to write about and find topics that are rarely covered by others – or that you can give your own spin to. Here are some of the steps I take to come up with great writing ideas.
What Have I Once Searched For?
When I’m stuck for ideas, the first question I ask myself is what have I once searched for? This has to be for my own personal needs, whether for my writing, to help my business or because of a hobby that I have. I rarely touch the topics I search for private clients, unless they match my tastes. If I have searched for something, it is likely that others have too.
I then think about how easy it was to find all the information and I ask myself the next questions:
- Did I have to spend hours searching?
- Did I have to check multiple sources?
- Was the information useful?
- Can I write on the topic better?
I take the time to think about the information I would give on the topics I once searched for. If I can’t offer any better information or explain it in a better way then I’ll leave it. If I can add more detail – maybe personal experience – then I’ll consider it.
The six starts to the majority of questions. These usually help to start my ideas but do not always become the title of my topic. They help to determine whether I can offer tips about a topic, need to explain something in detail or want to share interesting facts. Many of my articles are how-tos or offer some advice on why and when to do something but I often write about history and share interesting “when” and “where” facts.
Check What Others Have Written
No, not to copy. I want to know what questions others have asked and how they have written their content. I want to know the sources they have used or whether it has been from personal experience. This helps me create something from a different angle or avoid commonly written about topics. This also helps me gain new ideas about the topics, which often spring off into other great ideas.
Ask People for Advice
When it comes to my website Student Survival Tips, I asked people for advice before starting. I wanted to know what they thought I should cover on the website, whether they were parents of students, students looking into courses or people already struggling with their studies. This helped to get a group of ideas and see how they could split up into separate posts and articles.
There is no shame in asking others for advice and ideas. It often helps to get another perspective and think of topics that you would never have considered before. They often give ideas that they have searched for in the past but never found the answer to – or never found a good enough answer to.
Write Everything Down
Ideas come to me at all times of the day or night. Some just happen in the spur of the moment, while others branch off from other ideas that I have written about; even while writing. For example, writing this has led me to ideas for posts about story and fiction writing! I know that I’ll never remember everything – I have a hard enough time remembering the day of the week – so I write it all down. This allows me to go back over ideas when I am stuck in the future.
Those are some of my tips on when I’m stuck for ideas. There are many places to get inspiration and I often find a walk helps to get away from the computer and take note of the world around me. Find something that works for you and think about the stuff that you want to know about your topic or something that interests you; you are unlikely to be the only one.