Now for the eleventh instalment in my writing workshop series. I’ve covered the short story ending as well as the opening. I’ve guided you through dialogue and focused on the importance of taking time to do things properly. I’ve also given you a competitions refresher and some general advice on the art of the short story. The seventh instalment was about tips on writing humorous pieces and the eight helped you with generating ideas. Then I turned to the art of copywriting and last week’s workshop was all about writing anniversary pieces. This weeks looks at how to generate more ideas – but in a different way:
How to Gain Inspiration
From Everyday Tasks
You’ve written to every childcare magazine in the country, bombarded gardening magazines with tips and gems of your wisdom, magazines on homes and interiors have featured every inch of your home. Perhaps your ideas have started to dry up or you’re unsure where to go from here?
Everyday occurrences and tasks can be turned into a writing idea and articles. Take a peek at these and see if they get you reaching for your pen.
- As you lay back in the chair and the hairdresser massages shampoo into your hair, ask her a few questions. Perhaps she used to work in a store and took up hairdressing late in life. Or maybe she cuts hair for a famous person. Some hairdressers teach at college or take part in competitions. Any of these would make interesting articles for a business, enterprise or local magazine.
- Do you have a good relationship with your local grocer or storeman? Perhaps he has a quirky story to tell. Or has he had any unusual requests for produce? He must see hundreds of customers per week. These snippets can be turned into readers’ letters and pounds will soon be yours.
On the other hand, he may have amazing story about himself. Does he collect anything unusual? A ‘collect it’ magazine would be interested to hear from you. Or does he go to college to learn karate? Perhaps he is doing a self-defense class to help cope with intruders. This would make a great feature for a local paper/magazine and it could be reworked for a karate/self-defense magazine.
- You may only see your bank manager to discuss overdrafts and loans, but do they have any tips on budgeting, saving, making your money work and other financial help?
Finance magazines sometimes pay well for letters. Have you had a problem with your pension? Won’t your insurance company pay up? Turn it into a letter or article. Editors love this type of story.
- Going out for dinner? Why not write up a review and send it to a local magazine?
- Days out in the school holidays can be real money-spinners for newspapers and magazines. Add prices, whether there’s disabled access and places to eat and you’ve got an article to sell. Some travel magazines also like to feature local attractions. And why not produce a list of creative things to do to help keep the kids entertained and the mums and dads sane in the holidays? Glossy magazines, women’s magazines etc; there are plenty on the shelves, which would welcome this idea.
- Are you having some building work done at home? Perhaps a plumber is fixing a leak or a painter and decorator is doing some work. They will all have a tale or two to tell, which will be snapped up as a reader’s letter.
On the unfortunate side, work a tradesman has done for you may have gone wrong. A consumer/women’s magazine may be interested. As well as helping to fight your cause, they usually pay good money.
- Do you have acupuncture for health reasons? Would your therapist be willing to be interviewed? A health magazine would love to feature an article in the winter months on acupuncture and ways to beat the common cold. Words from an expert also add weight to your article.
Or do you see a Chiropractor for your back? Would your Chiropractor be willing to give advice on backs and self-help or new, innovative treatments? This would be ideal for a variety of publications, including women’s magazines, general interest and local magazines. Added with some research on back pain and you’re halfway to a sale.
If you’re having homeopathic treatments, reflexology, physiotherapy – on and on the list goes; think about a new stance on it. For example, homeopathy and pets. Do some research and interview your therapist. It’s interesting as well as providing a brilliant article.
- Are you going back to collage to gain a degree or further your education? What’s it like being a mature student? Do you have any tips on studying to share? General interest magazines, women’s magazines and specialist publications and student magazines would be interested in your article.
Or maybe you’re changing careers in your 30s, 40s or 50s. What’s it like? What sacrifices did you have to make? Business, local, general and women’s magazines would welcome your feature.
Buying a new car, choosing a school for the kids, your relationship with your neighbours, phobias, hints and tips you’ve found round the house; the brain storming just goes on. Hopefully these have helped spark a few ideas and maybe you’d like to add some of your own.