A friend and I were talking the other day about writing. He liked to write, but even so his biggest problem was finding things to write about. My friend was astounded at the volume of writing that I do - at least one article and something as many as six, per day. Where do I get all of the ideas from?
I, in turn, was astonished myself. Why on earth would anyone have any trouble finding things to write about? In fact, my main problem has been I have so much to write about that I often find myself locked in a silent battle over which subject should be put on paper first.
People find it even more amazing when I tell them I try very hard to only write about positive events and provide helpful articles. Only rarely will you find any of my writings containing criticism, complaints or, worst of all, whining. Occasionally I will write an article which recommends against purchasing a product, seeing a movie, reading a book or visiting a web site, but these are the exception.
The world is a huge, amazing, wondrous place. Things are going on around us all of the time. There is so much good to see and do all over the planet, so very many wonderful things going on all over the place, that it's easy to find something to communicate about if only you open your eyes and look.
One of my passions is the internet. I've written over 1,000 articles about all aspects of this massive communication medium. Much of this is taken from my 23 years of experience in the computer field, and the rest is from research, reading and, most of all, questions from other people.
Although much of my writing is about the internet, I also find time to communicate about many other subjects as well. These include relationships (marriage and romance), raising children, building a career, handling office politics, current events, hobbies and history. I have yet to find a subject which I don't have something useful to contribute to other people.
How do I find so much to write about? Let me tell you some of the ways: Many of my article ideas some from real life - For example, I have a long and happy marriage, so I like to write articles which help people with their relationships. I've also worked hard most of my life, as have most people, building a career, which is another area where I enjoy passing along tips to help others.
Question and answer sites - Sites like askme.com and askjeeves.com are perfect places to visit once in a while looking for ideas for articles. I visit and just scan the questions (and there are thousands of them), looking for anything which looks interesting. When I find something, I write an article.
Newsgroups - There are over 70,000 newsgroups. Most of these are worthless, but several thousand of them contain useful information and varied conversations. Lurk in any active newsgroup for a while and you should find something worthwhile to write about.
Yahoo and DMOZ - Visit any big directory site and you will find thousands of subjects to explore.
Egroups and Topica - There are thousands of email discussion lists available at these two sites. Sign up for a few and get articles ideas from them.
There are many other places to look for article ideas all over the internet. I tend to avoid looking at things like ezines, ebooks and web sites for article ideas. Why? Because when I look for article ideas I am not looking for answers.
What I tend to look for is questions. What kind of questions are people asking? Is there a question which begs some further analysis and a little more explanation than a simple sentence? It does not matter if someone else has already answered, as my primary purpose is not to provide raw information.
My primary purpose is to help people understand. You can find out raw information from any number of books or encyclopedias, but finding out how to clean up the clutter in your bedroom, well, that takes something different. That requires the experience and knowledge passed from someone who has had to go through the experience of cleaning many times, so many times that it has become easy.
Interestingly, I've found that television is not as worthwhile as one would expect for article ideas. Excluding a few reviews, I've found television to be a vast wasteland, void of anything but the most trivial or violent concepts in our society. The exceptions are, of course, channels such as Nova, History channel and Discovery.
So the next time you are trying to figure out something to write about for your own ezine, web site or ebook, just check out a newsgroup, elist or directory on a subject which you find interesting. Sooner or later, you will get an idea and you can start writing.
This article was posted on January 16, 2002