Aug 02

Writing Ideas – 5 Ways to Find Them

6 Ways to Find Writing Ideas

Contributed by Debra Eckerling

While you can use activity to find inspiration and breathe life into your projects, sometimes what you really need is a new idea.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

This article was first published at:

Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of the DEB METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChatLive on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

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Jan 13

Journaling is a Writer’s Best Friend

Journaling can help your writing

Guest post by Debra Eckerling

Whenever someone asks me how to get unstuck – and believe me, I get this question a lot – my immediate response is journaling.

Whenever someone asks me how to improve their writing, I tell them to start journaling.

Whenever someone asks me how to develop a new idea, I say – you guessed it – journaling.

The concept of journaling typically conjures memories of a tiny book, which harbors your deepest thoughts and secrets, and is locked up with a small key. However, whether you call it journaling, brainstorming, or free-writing, the process of getting words out of your head and onto the page can be cathartic, practice, or solve any number of problems.

Here’s how to use journaling to improve your writing, as well as your quality of life.

1. Problem-Solving. It is nearly impossible to solve a problem – writing or other – solely inside your head. Yet, when you write things out and look at them objectively, it helps with clarity and direction.

For example, let’s say you don’t know what you want your character to do next. Put yourself in your character’s shoes and start journaling from their point of view. This will help you take a deeper dive into their background … and enable them (your characters) to give you a suitable direction.

Let’s say you are having trouble with your outline. Journal several scenarios, set them aside, and look at them fresh the next day.

Stream-of-consciousness writing, whether it’s as the author of the character, can help you solve a multitude of problems.

2. Practicing. The best way to improve you writing is by writing. The more you do it (practice), the better you become. It’s like any sport of form of exercise.

What’s a better way to practice writing than journaling. You are writing for yourself, and so you can pretty much put anything you want down on paper … no audience, no judgement. It also helps you to develop your style and tone. When you write about the things you observe and experience, you don’t need to think about it. You can just write, explore, and improve.

Note: Beginning writers, especially, may want to read their journal entries out loud (in private, of course), since that’s the best way to catch any mistakes.

3. Pondering. Whether you are deciding the next step in a writing project, or trying to determine what to work on next, take it to your journal. Schedule a little bit of time each day to brainstorm on paper, as a way to explore your options. When you hit on something exciting, you’ll know, because that will be all you will be able to journal about. It can also serve as a repository for ideas for future projects. Next time you are ready to start something new, turn to any page in your journal, and see if what you have written ignites a spark.

However you choose to use the practice of journaling is fine. And, remember, you don’t only need to use it when you are stuck, need to practice, or explore what’s next. It can be used on an ongoing basis to track ideas, observations, and adventures.

How do you use journaling? Please share in the comments.

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group. She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast and the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

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Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

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