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Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?
The dreaded blank page. The cursor blinking, waiting for you, anticipating action.
You too are waiting for something, anything to pop into your head, but unfortunately your mind is as blank as the computer screen before you. You need inspiration.
Whether you are trying to come up with article ideas to pitch or are attacking your weekly column, having good sources of inspiration is essential to keeping your writing on track.
Some of my favorite sources of inspiration are a bit unusual. Sure, I look at what my favorite bloggers are talking about and for my parenting articles I look to my two in-house walking sources of information, but there are a couple more places that always get my juices flowing:
- Community/coffee shop bulletin boards. I’ve found postings from a couple desperate to adopt, so they put up the equivalent of an adoption resume – good makings of an article on non-traditional adoption stories with a source attached. I’ve also found information on activities, events, clubs and meetings that are great human interest stories and good sources for evergreen topics.
- Random Google. I throw a random term out and see what pops up. Venturing past the first couple of pages usually sparks some sort of interesting angle.
- Craigslist and Freecycle. The classifieds on Craigslist go beyond run-of-the-mill TV and couches for sale. The barter and free sections are particularly good for stories. I have seen some of the strangest requests and giveaways on Freecycle – including a wanted post for a taxidermied animal foot.
- My Own Work. Every so often when I’m stumped for ideas I go back through my old clips and notes from interviews. In my articles I look for different audiences to pitch to and different angles to explore. In my notes I look for other ideas and information an interview subject discussed that didn’t quite fit into the article then, but could translate into a new article now.
- Research News. I’ve used the research news page at universities to kick start a query for years. Depending on the size of the university, you can get news on everything from breast cancer research to advances in car safety to potty training studies and media studies.
Those are a couple of my favorites – what are yours? Where do you go when the mind goes blank?