One of the best ways to get published is by writing articles. But sometimes finding ideas is the hardest part of the writing process. See how many of these ways for finding article ideas work for you.
- Ask, “What if?” I’ve said many times that writers are observers of life. So, why not look at life with new eyes and ask the what-if question? Example: What if you couldn’t use your cell phone for a week?
- Tune into the news. What stories interest you? Why? What questions pop up about those stories? What is the larger implication of the story? Write your reactions to these questions so you can research and write articles about them.
- Consider what you talk about. If you’ve talked to a handful of people about a specific topic, that topic may work as an article idea.
- Go against the flow. Take a commonly held view and write the opposite. For example, I learned to dislike gardening as a child. I vowed I’d never pull another weed once I became an adult–and I haven’t! Instead, I get fresh produce at the farmer’s market. I buy fruit by the lug and can it in one day. I freeze vegetables all at once instead of picking a few this week and putting them by (or up, depending on where you live), then repeating the process several times during the gardening season.
- Observe a thing or a person or a process. Watch people do what they do, write down what you see, and figure out why they do things in a specific order or manner.
- Discover a different angle. When I taught my college class series, “Writing for Fun and Profit,” I told my magazine-writing students that if they didn’t get at least three angles from an article’s research, they weren’t using their time well. Example: I interviewed an antiquarian bookstore owner and sold three articles (each to a different market). They were (1) the profile of the woman herself; (2) the uniqueness of the bookstore, including ts typical customers and events held; (3) what to look for in buying antiquarian books. All of those articles came from one interview.
- Recycle old ideas. Go back through your journals, notebooks, writings, etc. and see what old ideas are new again. You might even find article ideas in old magazines from garage sales or your own basement. See if you can find an old idea that needs updating.
- Talk with people about their experiences. One of my writing group buddies had been on Wheel of Fortune. He couldn’t talk specifically about his show experience, but he could talk about how he decided to apply, what he felt when he won, what he felt when he lost, and how his life changed since the experience.
Look over the list and try some of these tips. The important thing is you get yourself writing because the days fly by quicker than you realize and your readers are waiting.