Whether you are writing blog posts, prose, or long-form fiction or non-fiction, sometimes you need to go back to basics and find a kernel of an idea to get you started.
Here are 5 places to find ideas, as well as how to use them for non-fiction or fiction.
1. Explore Social media. See what's up on your favorite social media pages and groups.
Non-Fiction: Check out which newbies are doing what in your field. Then, reach out to some of these up-and-comers, and see if they would be interested in being interviewed This could turn out to be a profile for your blog, an article to pitch, or a feature that includes several people doing interesting things in your field.
Fiction: Social media is a great place to seek out character traits, including descriptions, hobbies, and even jobs. Sometimes a great character is all you need for a fabulous story.
2. Read Books. Writers should be readers.
Non-Fiction: Write a list post of books to recommend your readers. Lump books together on a certain theme or topic. Start with ideas that interest you, because, if you get excited about a topic, it's likely your readers will too.
Fiction: Pick a page, a paragraph, and a line in a random book on your shelf. Or go to a library and pick something new. That line is the start of your next story or novel. Okay, this may not work for a long-form project, but when you give yourself the mandate to write at least a few pages about any random thing, it will certainly rev up your creativity.
3. Watch Videos. Dive into someone else's world.
Non-Fiction: Take a topic you've always been curious about or find a person who seems interesting, do a search, and watch some videos. Something within this exploration will make a good topic.
Fiction: This is a great place to people-watch (and find character traits) without leaving the comfort of home. Since this is a visual medium, pay close attention to the way people interact. Look at body language and listen for dialects.
4. Have a Conversation. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven't spoken to in a while. Or else, strike up a conversation with someone while waiting in line.
Non-Fiction: You never know what you can discover about someone unless you really pay attention when they speak. This person may have a great lead for a post idea ...or this person may be that great idea!
Fiction: Take someone's story and fictionalize it: minimize or exaggerate it! Have fun with this one.
5. Make a List. Write a list of anything that has ever piqued your curiosity.
Non-Fiction: Pick something at random to learn and then write about it. If it's a long-term project, write a monthly update on your progress.
Fiction: Challenge yourself to write a story incorporating no fewer than 20 items on the list. Feeling gutsy? Go for 50.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The more you seek them out, you will see that ideas are everywhere.
Where do you go to find ideas, especially when ideas elude you? Share your recommendations in the comments.
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She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages.
Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.