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Where Oh Where Are All the Good Article Ideas?
by Patricia Fry
Having contributed hundreds of articles to numerous magazines, Im often
asked, "Where do you get your article ideas?" I say, "Look everywhere." Heres a
guide to get you started:
Write About What You Know
What skills do you have? What are your interests and hobbies? What insights
have you gained over the years? Create article ideas from your own personal
knowledge and talents.
When I started my writing career, we were involved in horses as a family
and, in fact, we subscribed to several horse-related magazines. I studied
those magazines from cover to cover and fairly quickly came up with some
article ideas. Consequently, I sold dozens of articles to a variety of these
magazines. As an example, my first article featured various ways to use your
horse show ribbons. I sold another one on creative and practical hairdos for
horse shows. And I placed a humorous piece about being a horse show mother.
Write About Things You Want to Know
A good way to learn about something is to write about it. I once wrote a
piece on chain letters because I wanted to know more about the concept and
whether or not it could work. In order to write an in depth article, you have
to do the research, right?
Ive also written about growing African violets, the dangers in a hot
summer day, the dynamics of a habit and cat personalitiesall because I wanted
to learn more about these topics.
Share Your Experiences
Each of us has unique experiences. Use yours to develop good articles. Ive
sold articles based on my experiences with caring for an aging horse, rescuing
feral kittens, helping to build a safer neighborhood, grandparenting and
working at home, for example.
Relate the Experiences of Others
Make money by tapping into the life adventures of family, friends and
acquaintances. Get their permission, of course. Most people love to see their
names in print and are willing to be interviewed. Ive sold stories about the
perilous experience of a rider whose horse went over a cliff and lived, two
diabetic brothers who are dedicating their lives to helping children who have
diabetes, a woman who started an adopt-a-grave program to save a neglected
cemetery and many articles profiling people in interesting or successful
Look Everywhere For Article Ideas
I once met a handy-woman while waiting in line at the post office. This
chance meeting resulted in a couple of published articles. My long distance
grandparenting book came about while waiting in line at the grocery store. I
overheard two women talking about how difficult it is to bond with
grandchildren who live miles away. So while most people complain about
standing in line, I consider this an opportunity.
Ive also found article ideas at my grandsons Little League games, at a
Neighborhood Watch meeting, while traveling and during a family reunion.
Stop, Look and Listen
Pay attention to the world around you. Notice what people are doing and
listen to what theyre saying. Other people are excellent resources for a
writer whether you write nonfiction or fiction.
I heard a young mother complain recently that her family rarely sits down
and shares a meal together. This prompted me to write a piece on how to bring
the family back to the supper table. A friend told me, one day, that she had
met a man online. So I wrote an article about computer dating. After sitting
through a poorly executed presentation once, I wrote an article on effective
Keep Up With the News
Your newspaper is brimming with article ideas. Read it everyday from cover
to cover. This is how I came up with the idea for an article on healing and
therapeutic gardens and gardening. I also got the idea for a piece featuring
workplace cats from the newspaper. And my 3500-word piece on innovative PE
programs came about after reading a short article on the growing trend toward
obesity in children.
Use the Internet
Open up to new topics that you come across while web surfing. I do a lot of
Internet research and often discover potential article ideas while on my way
to do something else. My piece on Internet recruiting developed from an
unrelated Internet research project. My article on raising a better student
came about after a chance website visit.
Write From the Heart
What are you passionate about? How would you like to make a difference?
Ive written articles on teaching kids responsibility through horse ownership,
youth mentoring, how America is helping our children and, of course, articles
on being a more effective grandparent.
As you can see, coming up with article ideas is as easy as paying attention
to the world around you. Oh, that gives me an idea for an article on how to
sharpen your observation skills.
© Copyright 2005, Patricia Fry
Patricia Fry is a career writer, author, speaker and editorial/publishing consultant.
She is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)
www.spawn.org and the author
of 27 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book
Visit her informative blog daily, www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
New book of cat stories
Patricia Fry announces her latest book: Catscapades, Tales of Ordinary and Extraordinary Cats www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.html.
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