Many new writers often ask many other, more established writers, where they find their ideas. (Novelists get this a lot, as do columnists.)
Some people have a lot of ideas generating around in their fertile imaginations (Stephen King, for example), while others find that a few simple tips can help them not only find, but remember, inspiration.
If you’re building a platform for your ideas, you’ll want to be blogging and contributing comments to other sites. And even if you’ve got a good idea what your message is, and where it’s going, you still will find that you need to come up with ideas for future posts.
Here are a few suggestions, which have worked for me.
- Keep a notebook with you. No, this doesn’t mean you’re a pretentious hipster type with delusions of artistic grandeur. It means you’re a hardworking person who tries to see the world and remember it. A notebook can be anything from a thin little Moleskine booklet to a spiral-bound reporter’s pad to the notes program on your smartphone. What you want to do is jot down things that strike you when they strike you. You never know what this will lead to.
- Send yourself emails or even texts with your notes, ideas, random thoughts, whatever. If you’ve got a voice-enabled phone, this is easy: it’s like taking notes, but ensuring that they exist in the digital world for you to retrieve later.
- Read. A lot. Don’t just scan newspapers â€“ engage in the articles. Read books. Read blogs. Read RSS feeds. You want to do more than look at headlines, because often buried in the meat of an article is an idea that you could expound upon, and even build your message with. So read â€“ and keep your notebook handy when you do.
- Engage in a conversation. That’s right. A real conversation. Not just an online text. As the MIT social scientist Sherry Turkle, author of the book Alone Together, said in an interview, more and more people are connected, but fewer actually converse. So put the device down and pay attention to the people around you. You’ll be rewarded not only with ideas, but of an appreciation for people as people, You know, the ones who make up your audience.
- Read the comments. When you are looking over all the RSS feeds and blogs that you devour each day, make sure to comment, as this helps to draw people to your own message. More important, many of these comments will likely also contain nuggets of ideas. This is important to your continuing engagement with a tribe of thinkers.
- And keep writing. Your ideas will come more naturally the more you write.
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