(last edited on April 29, 2014 at 1:27 am)
I recently was asked to come up with some ideas for an article or two. I was having trouble coming up with an idea to write about, because the writing space was too broad. Since just asking for random ideas seemed to work for The Bee Story, I thought I might see if lightning strikes twice and conduct a little experiment.
My Writing Process
SO…how to generate an article idea? For me, it comes down to identifying a few things I can “hook” my mind on.
- Find a research challenge, like learning how to do something, or teaching a best practice, or gathering data. My problem is that there are so many things I’m interested in, picking one is a pain in the butt.
Find a personal experience that somehow relates to the challenge. It could be that someone has made an observation or experienced something recently, and they tell me about it. That usually triggers a research avalanche on my part. It also helps if I know a little bit about the audience I’m writing to in terms of personality, life, and career experiences.
Find a tricky application that requires a bit of insight or sorting out. The more befuddling the issue, the better…I like trying to make clarity out of mud. I draw the line, though, at issues that come down to “belief”…I think people are entitled to their own beliefs (as I am to mine), so I focus topics that are debatable based on observation, experience, and verifiable events and facts.
More succinctly, this all might be expressed as the packaging of a set of thoughts to match a particular scenario comprised of INTEREST, EMPATHY, and SITUATION.
Making Up AssignmentsUsually I write based on impulses I’m feeling at a given moment, never having thought of an article series or “editorial stance” that I might take. If I were to start an audience-driven editorial board, I might try implementing a process that looked something like this:
- Submit a TOPIC OF INTEREST, and identify a SPECIFIC PART OF IT that has caught your interest. Explain that interest.
Describe how that specific part of the topic of interest came to your attention, in the form of a brief narrative.
Pose a question stemming from that interest, tied to some relevant aspect of your life, career, or philosophy.
p>Anyone want to try this out? Submit your ideas in the comment areas. I’ll write up something based on submissions, if there are any. And if anyone else would like to write something based on the submissions, let me know and I’ll link to your post as part of the experiment.