When you have a deadline, and you’ve been asked to write some content for the website, there are few things more intimidating than a blank page. That’s why, before you even open up a new document, it’s important to approach with a decent idea of what you’d like to write. I’ve been writing for this company and several others for over a decade and here are some of the ways I’ve found that help me come up with ideas for writing topics, whether it’s for work or for fun.
Read, read, read. The importance of reading can’t really be overstated, and if you’re writing about a specific topic, it’s even more crucial. Absorb all the information you can from reputable experts in your chosen field. Then, remember that as a unique human being, you’ll probably find a new and insightful way to combine concepts you’ve read into a fresh perspective that you can explore further.
Think about it in the morning. At the end of the day, you’ve dealt with a million things and your brain is more cluttered than is ideal for trying to come up with fresh ideas. When you first wake up, and your mind is still a blank and clean slate, put some thought into the topic you’re considering. I’ve found that this is especially true if you spend some time the day before following Step One. You’ve had some time to process what you’ve read and extrapolate the most helpful or interesting bits. If you’re not the type to come up with any thoughts other than “coffee. Coffee. Coffee.” when you first wake up, wait until your gears start moving, then dedicate a few minutes to brainstorming.
Try throwing some of your other favorite things into the mix. Let’s say you need to write a topic that you’re not sure how to express in an engaging way. Try to incorporate one of your passions into it! It’s evident when a writer is excited about the topic they’re covering, and figuring out how to craft the right metaphors or tie-ins can create a new take that hasn’t been brought up yet. For example, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach writing about brainstorming, and I love cooking, so the first draft of this post was called “How Brainstorming Is Like Putting Together a Stir Fry.”
Keep a notebook handy. You never know when you’ll get a burst of ideas, so make sure you have something nearby to write in. It may seem jumbled now, but you’ll find that if you take a look at your notes the next day, you can sort through them and figure out what to use and what to cut. You can then build on the quality concepts you’ve jotted down.
Phone a friend. We all have that one friend that can spot a good idea from a mile away (and they’ll tell you when you have a bad one, too). You can always run your message past them, along with a few ideas you’ve already had, and go from there. It’s important that you do this with someone whose ideas and input you trust and respect, ensuring that you’ll walk away with the best ideas or best product possible.
Inspiration shows up in the strangest places. When you try to look at things you encounter every day in a new and different light, it’s like seeing it for the first time. It’s theorized that Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne was inspired by an advertisement in a newspaper. Even if you’re not the next Jules Verne, the process can remain the same. So get to it! Take a deep breath, clear your head, and put pen to paper.