They whine and bitch about not being able to come up with ideas or topics.
I know because I’m a snot-nosed brat of a writer myself. The only difference between the aforementioned toddler and me is that I don’t bitch and whine in public. I make a living from my writing, so I care about my public image. A lot.
You see, a lot of writers get ideas from their experiences by observing their surroundings. I either lack those experiences, or I’m terrible at observing, or in the event that I have something to share, my introversion kicks in, and I freeze up. This results in a strong aversion to sharing anything too personal.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve tried. I’ve shared some of my deepest and darkest secrets on other writing platforms, but only to end up being saddled with guilt and anxiety afterward.
So yeah, opening up or oversharing isn’t exactly my cup of tea.
But recently, I’ve had this uh-huh moment. To be honest, it’s a bit embarrassing that I’ve only just figured out this genius of a trick after two years of blogging.
If you’re one of those snot-nosed brats who can’t seem to come up with ideas if your life depended on it, I bear good news. If you do what I’m about to outline, I guarantee your graduation from a brat to a mature teenager well on their way to an adult writer status.
The Trick: Dedicate Half an Hour Every Day (or However Long You Need to) Going Over Other People’s Stories
There, that’s the trick.
I can almost picture you in my mind now, rolling your eyes, thinking what a huge waste of some 40 seconds it has been, reading that self-indulgent intro to yet another boring story about something everybody already knows a lot about — read if you want to be a better writer.
But hold that thought! There’s more to come, and it will be different from other self-indulgent stories by bratty writers writing about writing, myself included, I promise!
Now, allow me to expand on this “trick” and show you exactly how this really works.
Have you ever come up with a great idea for an article only to realize someone has already written about it? I’m sure you have unless you live under a rock. And as writers, we really cannot afford to live under a rock.
So, let’s assume your grand idea has been done already. But wait, that doesn’t have to be the end of the story, yeah? Read the article that someone else has written, and then find out everything you disagree with. Chances are that you’ll find a point or two.
Good. Now think of a way to cash in on that. Focus on the points you have a difference of opinion, and then write an article about those differences.
For example, a couple of weeks ago, I saw an article where the writer was musing about how a man in love will commit right away, no questions asked. After all, why would a man in love not want to settle down, get married, make some babies, and whatnot?
Reading that article pissed me off so much that I sat down and wrote a counter-argument right away! It wasn’t originally my idea, nor was the topic an original per se, but my article’s content was definitely unique and my own.
There, an old topic, a new approach, a new story, and voilà (in a French accent to boot!)
Take your skepticism to the next level
Why stop there? Take the aforementioned approach one step further and seek out some writers and publications you cannot stand. Spend some time daily (or as needed) checking out what they’re publishing.
For example, there is a certain publication (rhymes with caught wagalog) that I absolutely love to hate!
It’s a treasure trove of [terrible] ideas.
The catch is, pretty much everything I find there pisses me off or makes me wonder why someone would bother writing these pieces of crap, and more importantly, why someone would bother publishing these pieces of crap.
Entirely my personal opinion, but man, am I eternally grateful to them?! When my well of ideas is running dry, that publication is my go-to. I know for sure that something would catch my eyes, rub me off in all the wrong ways, and then I’ll be able to implement the method of disagreeability to write something brand new.
This method works so well because of a simple reason.
When you love a writer or a publication, the chances are that you love what they’re saying. So, there’s not much for you to take away other than maybe expand your own knowledge. It doesn’t help you come up with unique ideas.
But when you don’t like something? When you disagree with what the other person is saying? That’s when you have this golden opportunity to hijack the original idea, give the topic a twist, and write something entirely different.
Give a good idea a twist
In the above scenarios, you’re dealing with things you either disagree with or downright despise.
But what about the good stuff? Well, there’s a way to take something away from them too.
If you cannot find anything to disagree with, that’s fine. Just write the article differently with a different twist.
For example, I once wrote an article about all the exes in my life. It was a collection of anecdotes, not much else.
A couple of weeks later, one of my favorite writers published something that looked pretty similar at the onset. But after reading it, I realized it was a completely different piece from what I had written. Hers was a collection of well-thought-out life lessons from her previous relationships, while mine was nothing but ramblings of an arrogant brat.
It pissed me off that someone else had done something so much better than me with a similar idea to mine, but I learned a lesson that day. Ideas are recycled every day. Coming up with something nobody has ever written about is impossible. But that doesn’t mean you cannot give an old idea a new twist!
And if you’re a writer, or want to be a writer, then that’s where your efforts need to go. To learn to be able to recycle old ideas into new and improved versions of the old ones. Because honestly, if you’re waiting for a completely new and original idea, you’ll be waiting for a long time, and meanwhile, rent and bills won’t be paid on time.
So yeah, that’s the trick for when you think you have nothing to say. You do, really. You’re just not seeing it. Sometimes ideas don’t come to you; you have to go after them.
Your turn now. Do you do anything unique to get ideas for your blog posts, articles, or stories? Share in the comments so we can all learn from you 🙂
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