Ideas For Writing

Writers have inspiration for ideas in everything around them. Ideas are everywhere!

If you wait for inspiration to hit, sometimes you have a long wait. There's plenty of ideas and idea generators. You're just overlooking them.

Next time you're sitting at your desk or kitchen table, staring woefully down at a blank sheet of paper and waiting for unknown forces to move your pen, try one or two of these ideas. It's a sure thing the writing muse will slip into her track shoes and hit the ground running for you.

First of all, make it a rule to read at least thirty minutes a day. Read more than that if you like but never less. Read newspapers, magazines or books. It doesn't matter what you read because something is bound to capture your interest.

Try going for a walk. Be aware of your surroundings. There's a story in every house and around every corner. Scene ahead: a U-Haul truck parked in a driveway. Hmmmm"¦ let's let the ideas flow no matter how offbeat or comical. Who's moving in or out? Wonder if they're on the Witness Protection Program like our last neighbors. What's the cost of moving today? They're taking in printing equipment... wonder if they're counterfeiters? Wow! Her husband is sure a hunk. You can tell he works out. What would be a good starting sentence for an article about exercising your pecs? Look, they've got a dog -- a Scottie. What's the history of Scotties? Scotch. 100 year-old scotch. The Chinese have a delicacy of 100 year old eggs. How'd that ever come to be? See? Relax your mind and ideas will begin to flow to you. Set your curiosity adrift with the sea of ideas.

Is there a birthday, anniversary or holiday coming up? What about personalities in the area famous or infamous? Do you know someone who's a character ready made? Poke around in museums. Living in Prescott, AZ., where history is part of everyday life, I like to visit the Sharlot Hall Museum and poke around finding out things about the early Chinese settlers or the bawdy houses that occupied a good part of the town in its early days. One of the things I discovered was that John C. Fremont had been governor of Arizona as well as a governor of California. What about a piece like 'The First Hundred Years of"¦"¦"¦..'

Editors like short articles about how you solved a particular problem. Your solution to an everyday irritation can be valuable to others as well as your bank account.

What are your interests? What do you know about your interest that would save a beginner time or money? Interview your friends and find out about their hobbies and interests. That's a good place to find idea starters.

Seasonal ideas can be fun. Friends stopping by are likely to see my desk and wall space festooned with red construction paper hearts and flowers decked out for Valentine's Day in the middle of September. I like to write six months ahead of the season and must be coerced into the mood. Writing six months ahead of the season gives you time to write, re-write and submit.

Have you ever tried a 'list' article? Editors love this kind of thing - especially for fillers.

You'll find a lot of them in women's magazines with titles such as The Ten Worst Things I Hate About My Body. (Gee, at ten I'm just getting started!)

Don't forget to look back at your past articles and see which ones could use a follow-up. Readers care about a topic and then wonder what happened now that a year or more has passed.

Keep an idea notebook. Personalize it any way you like. Sometimes I cut pictures out of magazines and paste them on the pages. Other times I write descriptions such as the way two children were playing sidewalk games, the way the walkers looked doing their brisk daily thirty minutes around the court house square, etc. Write anything that captures your interest. You never know when you'll need an idea and you'll have it in your notebook.

I have a section in my notebook for interesting names, odd facts, books I should read, descriptions and funny phrases I hear while talking to people. Make your notebook work for you.

If possible, know your editor's interests. Most magazine and book publishers have editors that handle specific areas. Cruise through past issues of magazines at the public library and determine what topics are getting the biggest play and try to analyze why.

To sum it up: Stop, look and listen. Ideas are everywhere.

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