For some, it's a real struggle. For others, it's so easy that articles just pour out almost every hour of the day. Coming up with ideas, that is. How on earth does a writer keep their mind so alert all the time?
Well, on the whole, it does take a little bit of effort. Many people reading this will be active in some sort of business, perhaps, or hobby, or organisation. Within those circles, there are "tit-bits" of information flying around all the time, but much of it goes unnoticed. A chance comment, an unusual event, unusual people, a set of awkward problems...all these things can be gathered and eventually integrated into writing an article. Accumulation of personal experiences, irrespective of how trivial they might seem, is a must-have. Christine Derrick explains:
Cultivating an alert mind is one factor; training your observation is the other. Whether that observation be by eye or ear, it doesn't matter; make both of them work for you. When they do work, you will begin to notice things, people and events much more sharply than before. You will catch odd throw-away comments, sideline conversations and similar communications. You will add, daily, to your personal experiences. Be like a vacuum-cleaner; take note of everything that goes on around you....you can sort out the treasures from the dust later on.
For some 30 years I have been an amateur artist; and hopefully, over those years I have developed considerable sensitivity to my environment. Writing came rather later; it is not something I "got into" until just a few short years ago. It began with long-ish emails to a colleague. These led onto writing letters for one or two small opportunity magazines. I currently write a monthly "general topic" column for a small magazine, plus a monthly online newsletter for UK readers. At times I sit back and wonder how on earth I managed to do all that! Whether or not I will continue in these realms remains to be seen; but everything must develop from a start-point, somewhere. There is no obligation to remain at the starting- post.
The production of ideas does, of course, depend very much on who you are writing for. If you are operating in a relatively narrow field, then all your topics need to revolve around it; e.g small business, online marketing, dog-breeding, whatever. This is where you need to dig deep and teach your- self a great deal about your field. A lot of people don't like reading or learning anything; to write reasonably successfully, you simply cannot ignore these two activities.
Write about things you enjoy (as long it relates to your targetted readers); it makes the creation process much less painful. If you feel knowledgable in more than one field, then expand your interests. Maybe, one day, go "freelance" and write articles on a variety of topics.
People relate to articles on:
- emotional issues
- self improvement
- local and community issues
- hobbies and practical skills
- curious and unusual places
- events and people
- family matters.... this list can go on forever.
In time, you may find yourself, and your writing, falling naturally into one or two "niches" or categories. They may be quite different from those that you had originally intended to handle. It is wise not to fight this movement; just go with it. Although it's fun writing for the Internet, don't ignore offline traditional magazines. They are much more likely to pay you money!
Christine has chosen to further her long-standing interests in amateur art and associated groups. Starting out over 25 years ago as a complete painting novice, she sees the Internet as an ideal way for any artist to have a permanent display of their works and perhaps attract extra income.