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Article Ideas from Jingle and Essay Contests
by Rick Fowler

I have never totally understood the frustration behind the phrase, "writers block", probably because my livelihood doesn't rely solely on my ability to knock out article after article on a myriad of subjects. I teach high school English therefore most of my time is spent editing and correcting papers not writing them. However, I also freelance when I can, mostly outdoor related articles. Yet, when an idea strikes me I will pursue it, finish it and then not worry till the next one appears sometimes out of nowhere, which seemingly is a luxury. If I feel that the next subject in my particular genre isn't coming quickly enough then I resort to a backup plan that is a simplified way to keep the creative juices flowing even when the well has been visited time and time again to no avail.

Jingle and essay contests often give me the spark to continue and often in different genres. For instance, I entered a contest 2 years ago that required entrants to relate an experience that occurred when their children were young that sparked their imagination, and left their parents in awe. Now I didn't win anything in this contest but I did get from it a new idea for an outdoor article that involved a nostalgic recollection of an episode on a dock with my two children, plus another article on the merits of lake home ownership. A venue that I never dreamt I could show finesse in.

While browsing I often go to the about.com web site, click on ESSAY CONTESTS, and peruse those that are forthcoming. The ones I find interesting I will pursue, not only for entry in the contest itself, but usually there will be a piggyback effect for getting new ideas if the essay question is within my capability and time.

I have just read a recent Essay Contest requirement that calls for entrants to answer the following question: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE FOOD MEMORY? Now, I'm not much of a cook, nor do I have favorite recipes. Yet, the subject itself evokes memories of netting smelt, cleaning them, and then cooking the delicious morsels over an open fire with my dad and grandfather. Voila! A new article was born which I have recently sent in.

Even if your intent is not to enter the jingle and/or essay contests that run amok over the Internet, TV, and periodicals. Don't discount the merit they could have in producing future articles.

© Copyright 2006, Rick Fowler

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