How Do You Generate Topics for Articles?

Lately I've been having a lot of difficulty coming up with topics for articles. The articles must have a writing slant naturally, and be fresh, original content. Coming up with catchy topics and titles on a consistent basis might very well be the bane of many a writer, and yet we persevere.

So how do we continue to create compelling original content week after week about what could be labeled the same thing everyone else is talking about? There isn't an easy answer, but there are a couple of things that you can do to get the energy flowing again when it feels like the well has gone dry.

I tend to rely on my own ideas, so not only will I keep a little notebook handy for jotting things down as they come to me, but I'll spend a little time every day just free-writing and brainstorming. The two can be interchangeable. A good free-write will have a bit of brainstorming in it, and often but not always the reverse is true.

When I free-write, I allow myself as much time as I need to get everything on paper, and I use a pen or a pencil and paper, not the computer. The computer is great for getting ideas down fast however, and if you're more comfortable using it then go ahead. Starting off a free-write is the hardest part, so just write down whatever pops into your head – even if that happens to be “this is hard”. It will get easier as you write and more and more ideas will start to appear on your page.

That's the beauty of this process, once you get out of your own way and give yourself over to less thinking, you will be lead by your intuition. That is when the best ideas come through.

If you want to brainstorm, you can use the list method or another version of a free-write method. Many people use their free-writing sessions as jumping-off points for brainstorming deeper into an idea. My own method involves the list building, or 'cartwheel' method as we used to call it when I was in grade school. Your main idea goes at the top of the list, and then you can begin to list any ideas that pop into your head right beneath it.

When I was younger we would actually put the main idea in the center of the page and then 'cartwheel' our brainstorming around it. If you have the extra time and are so inclined, this is a great way to visualize your topics.

There is no right or wrong way to generate ideas for writing articles. I have even been known to take old scholarly articles that I've written and rework them for new content. Any way you go about it, generating new ideas for articles doesn't need to be a difficult or dreaded process. With just a few minutes a day of consistent practice with this process, you will have enough topics to write about for the rest of your life, no matter what kind of mood you're in.

  • Posted by Patricia Ross
  • May 20, 2013 11:30 AM PDT




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