Monday, February 20, 2012

What Do You Want to Write About?

Last month, my blog post was titled: Do You Want to Be a Writer? This month, I will make a few suggestions of what you could write about.

Where do ideas for writing come from? Newspapers, photographs, and your childhood are a few examples of what you could use for inspiration. If you are suffering from writers block, perhaps the following will help.

Classified ads - Try reading the help wanted and for sale ads. Are there any interesting jobs being advertised that might make a good short story? What do people want to buy? What are people selling? Can you write a story or book about why someone might be selling their personal belongings? Let your imagination explore what might happen.

I remember reading an ad from someone who was selling 1970’s teen magazines. I wondered which teen idols the seller liked from that era. Did she use her own money to buy the magazines or did she beg her mother to buy them for her at the grocery store? Did she meet any of her idols at a concert? Was she in the audience of a TV show her idols appeared on?

Advice columnists – “Dear Abby” is a very well-known advice column, published in newspapers all over the United States. This column contains a myriad of topics to explore. Take a problem that a reader needs help with and flesh out a story of what could happen to someone as the months and years go by. Was the conflict resolved satisfactorily? Did any of the parties move to a new city or state, start a family, get a new job?

A photo, print or painting - Pick a photo, print or painting and write a story about what you see. What are the people doing? Where are they? What might happen later in the day or next week? Did they go on a vacation, go out to dinner, or get married? Where could the photo been taken? Is the print or painting of a particular place or could it be anywhere? Think of the possibilities!

Your childhood - I’m taking another class. Currently, I’m writing about my childhood. At first, I thought this was going to be difficult, but the more I write, the more I remember. I’m also including links to websites to help my readers (my classmates) better understand what I am talking about, since I am writing about a world that existed decades ago.

You can probably think of other examples of where to get ideas on writing. Take a notebook and jot down a topic at the top of each page or just make a list. Start with the above suggestions and then add your own. When you have problems thinking of where to go with your writing next, refer to your notebook and maybe the creative process will begin to flow again.

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.


  1. I see the post Debbie. I noticed that the clock might be off for this blog. You can try scheduling for 12:01 am on your posting day.

    I like your suggestions. I also like newspaper and magazine articles to spur my imagination.

    1. Kathy, I will try that. I think I might write a cheat sheet for myself on how to post to this blog. Maybe that will help me. I will include your suggestion and try it next month. Thank you!

  2. I just added another space in between each paragraph. From here, it now looks fine. At least I can see my post! YIPEE!!

  3. For posting, you need to shoot for at least 1AM for it to be effective for that day, 12:01 won't work.

    And, yes, paragraphs need to be separated by a line space.

    I get a lot of ideas for my posts and ebooks from webinars, observations, classes, books and so on.

    For my children's fiction I get ideas from my grandchildren, folktales, TV . . .

  4. Love your suggestions. I'll check out Dear Abby and the classifieds and see what I discover.

  5. Good article, Debbie. Thanks. Dear Abby sounds like a good plan.

  6. Well put Debbie. For a writer, idea gathering is innate I think - part of observing and perceiving. I often find certain journals help me too - New Scientist is always rich fodder for me.

  7. Thanks Debbie for sharing such motivational story ideas.


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