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At the moment, I’m sitting pretty with my next fifteen articles planned out. This number is on the low end for me as I’ve just returned from a holiday.
When I go on holiday, I don’t work on articles. If I’m inspired to write, it will be novel related. I keep business away from my time off.
My system involves putting aside a half-hour every day. During this time, I focus on finding interesting topics to write about. Because I have the practice of thinking deeply and exploring topics, I can take time off when I need it.
I never run out of ideas, and I always know what to write every single writing day. I have a database in Notion filled with title ideas, but I don’t stop there.
Here is how I always know what to write.
Mondays are when the magic happens. My brainstorming session sets the tone for my whole week.
You don’t need to do this on a Monday, but the first workday works best for me. It removes topic anxiety from my life. I don’t need to worry about titles during precious creative hours. I know I’ve provided topics for myself so I don’t have to spend mental energy worrying about my work.
The brainstorming session can happen whenever you have time. I strongly recommend that you take about half an hour for the process.
Through trial and error, I’ve established an order of operations. Some of these may seem obvious, but they weren’t always something I actively considered, so bear with me.
Sit Down And Stick It Out
Half an hour is a long amount of time on days when creativity isn’t flowing freely. I do this weekly and usually write about writing so I can find it challenging to generate new content ideas.
It’s all a part of the process. Struggling to find topics will occasionally happen.
I recommend that you sit down and stick it out. Wait for the inspiration to strike. If you’re coming up dry, a good place to find topic inspiration is to look at questions people are asking. Websites like Medium, Quora, Reddit or Twitter can hold a mountain of inspiration. I would be careful and limit my screen time.
Only approach social media sites if you can go in, get what you need and get out again.
It’s why I’ll often go for the less enticing websites. Quora is a platform that I don’t like as a user, but it does have a lot of people asking specific writing questions. Reddit and Twitter are no go zones for me because I would end up scrolling forever. I know my weaknesses, and I avoid them. You should try to do the same.
When I jot down my ideas, I usually write down a rough first draft of a title. This helps me practice my title writing skills while providing clear topic instructions. You can also write down the topic, theme or some keywords if you would rather keep this process a bit looser.
Come up with as many ideas as you need to publish that week. I usually try to get a few more, but my basic goal is to keep up with my publishing schedule.
Keep Your Bad Ideas
I used to throw away my ‘bad’ ideas, and I almost always regretted it. Now that I’m more experienced as a writer, I wish I had those ideas to look back on and twist around. Sometimes, the sillier-looking ideas can give you a unique way to approach a topic. I got a great article on why playing roller derby helped my writing because of a ‘bad’ idea. It was fun to write and challenged me creatively.
You can’t develop something that isn’t there. Keep a list of castaway ideas if you don’t feel up to the task of writing them yet. They could even be used as inspiration for brainstorming days.
Treat your ideas like a dragon hoarding wealth. Sure, that might be a copper piece… but it’s yours, so you might as well add it to the pile and sit on it for a bit. What’s the harm in that?
Know Your Title Before You Write
Back when I was a baby writer, I wrote an article and then tagged a title at the end as an afterthought. I also usually didn’t have a specific direction for my article. I would write whatever I felt like and then throw it out into the wind.
This worked for thirty days… but coming up with content every day was exhausting. I’ve found that dividing up parts of the creative process helps my creative clarity and stress levels. I also don’t publish every day anymore, so that’s been immensely helpful.
Knowing your title before you write can give your article clarity and focus. It makes for an overall stronger and generally more helpful piece.
Make Content Notes
As I mentioned before, I write down my article ideas in title format. Sometimes, this can be confusing, especially if an article could go multiple ways. If I want to write a specific type of content for that title, I will write notes.
A great example of this is my title idea, ‘Sounds About Write’; the note I’ve left beside this article is ‘Tips from a dyslexic on homonyms’. ‘Homonyms’ is misspelt in the content note… I just wanted to share that because it’s pretty funny.
Content notes can be immensely helpful to your future self if your idea is too vague. The other option is to let your future self figure it out, which is also a fun, creative activity that I do enjoy!
Set Up A Time And Place To Write
This step is kind of a two for one offer. Schedule some writing time, then give yourself a publishing deadline.
I write my first drafts every Tuesday morning. If you have a chaotic schedule, finding your writing time will be a weekly occurrence.
Regarding the deadlines, I line each title up with my publishing schedule and give it a realise date. ‘Sounds About Write’ will come out on February 7th, for example. I don’t need to worry about publishing because I’ve already given myself that information. After editing and proofreading, all I have to do is look at the date on my database and schedule it.
It’s all about simplifying.
Good luck with fine-tuning your idea generation process. What works for me might not work for you. However, it will give you a good jumping-off point for experimentation and development.
As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!