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7 Places To Uncover New Ideas, Boost Your Creativity, and Your Bottom Line
by Jennifer Brown Banks

I don’t get writer’s block. I can’t afford to.

As a weekly online columnist, feature writer for a monthly lifestyle magazine (for 12 years), and veteran freelance writer, my professional reputation and my livelihood require that I produce regularly! On average, I crank out about 7-12 articles a month, and successfully place about 90% of them, in addition to other creative projects.

Not bad, wouldn’t you say?

The challenge, over the years, however, has been infusing my work with fresh, innovative, marketable ideas, over and over again. I’ve written 100s of articles on relationships, dozens on the craft of writing, and God knows how many on other topics from time management, to money management, to health tips.

But, let’s face it, so have other writers!

So from where do all these ideas emerge? And how do I bring them to life in a way that allows me to be consistent, clever and compete with other scribes?

Read on and discover the clues to uncovering everyday ideas from some often overlooked sources!

Over the last decade, here are 7 ways I have successfully sleuthed my way to lucrative leads, landed monthly paychecks, and lasted in this business.


1. THRIFT STORES— It’s often said that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. But for me, the thrift store provides much more than unique antiques! It’s a treasure house of new ideas and themes for my writing. For example, one day while browsing their video section, I came across a library of exercise videos priced at about a buck a piece. I purchased six of them which included Richard Simmons’ Sweating To The Oldies, Regis Philbin On Fitness, the ever-popular Tae Bo, and a few others. Am I a fitness nut? Not hardly. I took them home, briefly viewed them, and wrote a review on the best fitness videos for busy singles!

I sold the review, made 50 bucks, and every now and then, dust them off and dance my blues away! The same concept works for their bargain books. Additionally, their magazine section often provides a peek at publications that are not found at my local bookstore. This gives me a wealth of ideas and untapped markets!

2. CHURCH SERMONS—“In the beginning there was the word.” Preachers are powerful orators! And if they’re really good, it’s hard not to be inspired by their eloquent speeches on how to live better and deal with our own demons. The next time you’re attending a weekly service, pay attention to what’s being said, and what’s not. Jot down a few scriptures and quotes (discretely on a church program, or in between your bible), and deliver your own message of deliverance to the masses!

3. YOUR “9 TO 5”— Most writers have regular gigs. Often these settings provide as much drama as your daily soap opera! Whether it’s the boss from hell, the co-worker who’s sleeping her way to the top, or water cooler conversations, take note! Just be sure to change the names to protect the guilty.

4. RELATIONSHIP REVELATIONS—Love is big business. And unlike other subject matters, you don’t need any special “credentials” to write on matters of the heart. Articles on how to improve your relationships, survival strategies for being dumped, and how to please your mate, are staples in consumer magazines across the country. An added bonus is that you don’t have to have previous clips to break into many of these markets.

5. ADVICE FROM YOUR MOM—I don’t know about your mom, but if she’s like mine, she’s got plenty to say! Why not capture her “words of wisdom” in a memoir, funny story, intriguing essay, or character in a creative work?

6. RADIO TALK SHOWS—Tune in while you’re driving or doing some other multi-tasking. They typically cover everything from celebrity news, to sports, to politics. Do you agree or disagree? Weigh in!

7. DIARY /JOURNAL REFLECTIONS—Oprah Winfrey calls them “AHA MOMENTS”. What have yours taught you? What has your emotional and spiritual growth uncovered over the last few months or years? I’ve had a few of my diary scribblings evolve into essays that were later published in popular anthologies. Don’t dismiss your thoughts and feelings as silly or trivial. You just never know!

Whether you’re new to writing or a seasoned vet, these buried treasures should bring you a pot of gold amidst your quest! Happy hunting!

© Copyright 2007, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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