How to generate ideas for your writing

Every now and then, I run a workshop on making blog content interesting at a local high school. The workshop always kicks off with a session on generating ideas for blog posts – though of course the ideas apply to all writing.

Here are thoughts on how to generate content ideas that I share (with the addition of some that have been shared by participants over the years):

Look, listen, reflect
  • Listen to what’s happening around you – learn the fine art of eavesdropping. What stories are you hearing? What are the hot topics of conversation?
  • Look at what’s happening around you – in the street, in the shops, on your commute. As you observe, what are your speculations? What questions arise?
  • And to record all that you see and hear, keep a notebook in your bag/car – or get a note-taking app on your phone: write things down as they occur to you. I use UpNote – and Google Keep is a good one too.
  • Pay attention to your own life and experiences and write from that base – personal is always better.
Do some work
  • Set yourself a project: find picture of the day, generate a tip of the week, do a recipe of the month. Whatever your niche, there’s sure to be one regular thing you can feature.
  • Get a Twitter account – see what’s trending. Remember you can use Twitter as resource for trends and interesting people: there is no obligation to participate if you don’t want to. My guide to Twitter lists is a good place to start.
  • Keep a list of days and events – National Cat Day, the dates of a local organic market. There might be something there that links with your own interests
  • Keep these ideas in an editorial calendar – here’s how to do that: The who, why and how of making a content calendar
Think about (and listen to) your audience
  • If it is content for a business, ask your customers what they would be interested in reading
  • If your blog allows comments on articles, keep an eye on them to see what people are talking about. The same goes for your social media accounts: actively engage and listen to what your followers are saying.
Get some ideas online

Do you have any ways to beat that blank page with the blinking cursor? Please email me, or share in the comments section.

Contact me if you would like to chat about how I can help with all your communication needs (writing, editing, coaching and training, social media).

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Main picture: Cardinals eavesdropping in the Vatican. A painting by Henri Adolphe Laissement [fr], 1895, Hampel Fine Art Auctions, Public Domain

This is an updated version of a post first published in 2017.

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