Ideas are all around us. That’s probably not what you want to hear if you are having writer’s block at the moment but it’s true! Sometimes, those ideas are just easier to spot than others so, if you approach life like the next good idea is right around the corner, ideas will start popping up like weeds, all around you. I always recommend that fitness instructors keep a journal or the notes app on their phone and jot down questions that students ask after class. Each one of these questions can become an article or a blog topic or, at the very least, a section in one of the above.
Now, expand that beyond your fitness crowd. When a friend or family member asks something health-related, jot that down too! If you have anyone in your life that likes to make a lot of suggestions, write those down too! It doesn’t mean that exact suggestion will necessarily turn into an article but maybe it sparks a similar idea!
You know how some people are better story tellers than others? I don’t think it’s because they actually have ‘better’ experiences, they just see the story in everyday interactions. Are there any fellow Regis Philbin fans out there? That guy is so amazing and he could tell the most fascinating story about a simple 5-minute experience in a parking garage. During his talk show days, he looked at his everyday, seemingly boring tasks as opportunities to find a story since he knew he had to come up with enough stories to fill five morning ‘chats’ per week. Since you are a writer or aspiring writer, use your interactions, suggestions and the questions you’re asked as material for your job.
Here are two examples in my own experience.
In 2016, I would have still called myself a health and fitness writer but I was also writing a lot of beauty articles at the time. During the 2016 election season (don’t worry, I won’t get political at all!), my husband and I were watching TV and he suggested I write an article about Trump’s tan. He was completely joking but I actually pitched a similar article and my editor at Fitness Magazine picked it up! Click here to read Sunless Tanning Tips to Help You Avoid a Trump Tan.
On another occasion, I was walking with a friend and she was talking about her workouts at a popular boutique chain and she was mentioning that some of the other women in class would sweat way more than her during class. She asked me if I knew why and, although I had no idea, I pitched my editor at SHAPE and she took me up on the idea! You can read How Much Should You Really Sweat During a Workout? here! Of course, I did my research and interviews to answer the question but that actually brings up another lesson.
As a writer, it’s good to be familiar with a topic but you don’t need to know or understand every detail pre-interview or pre-research to write a good piece. I once knew a magazine editor for a regional publication and she told me that she often got criticism for living about 45 minutes away from the magazine’s target area (and title of the magazine) but that she didn’t think it mattered at all. She had a journalism background and said she had reported on murders in the past yet she wasn’t a murderer. Can’t argue with that.
Another great way to come up with ideas is to read the very sites and publications where you’d like to see your work and I recently wrote a short blog about this being the first step of writing (you can read it here). This is also a great way to validate an idea since you’ll notice if it fits in with what they typically publish or if they’ve recently published something very similar.
There you have it! I can’t wait to hear some of your stories about unique ways you found writing ideas!