40 Ideas To Help Spark Your Next Article
Ideation is a crucial part of the writing process. A lot of writers enjoy the process of coming up with new ideas and flushing them out. In fact, many writers that I work with have a long, running list of ideas. They have dozens of started drafts and more starting points than they know what to do with. It’s common in our conversations for someone to mention, “Yeah, I need to go back through and clean out my drafts folder.”
If you’re an avid writer, you’ve likely got a graveyard of ideas. They aren’t all winners. Some of them you likely abandoned for a good reason. Some of them you tried writing and you realized halfway through that it wasn’t the right time to finish. Some you want to write but haven’t set aside the time, courage, or dedication to get it done.
If you’re one of those people that ideas come to naturally, it’s easy to overlook that blessing. And I say blessing because it truly is a great perk to be able to ideate so well. A lot of my writing friends would probably push back and say that they work hard to brainstorm ideas. That it doesn’t come naturally but that it takes effort and time. I’m probably somewhere in-between those camps.
I’ve written over 200 articles on Medium and I haven’t tapped the idea well dry. I also spend a solid chunk of time most weeks purely focused on ideating new concepts and potential articles.
If you feel like you can’t come up with ideas, unfortunately, some of the answer is probably that you may need to put in a bit more time and work. But that’s the answer for most struggles in life. I think it’s also completely fair to realize and admit that ideation might not be a strong suit for you and to ask or look for help in that area.
Writers often tend to think that if they have an idea, they need to hoard it for themselves. I understand the feeling, and there are definitely ideas that you want to keep a bit more private — big ideas about an upcoming project or a really cool spin on something that no one else is saying. But overall, most of our ideas are coming from things we’ve seen or things we’ve stolen, as Austin Kleon, would say in Steal Like An Artist.
Knowing this, I think it’s beneficial to occasionally toss some ideas out there for anyone to use. This is not an endorsement of these ideas necessarily. You might read these and find yourself saying, “I wouldn’t write about any of those topics.” That’s totally fine. But you might find something that sparks your creativity and that you want to write about.
Here’s the magic of writing. 10 people could write about the same idea and put 10 completely different polishes on the concept. There is enough grass in the pasture for all of us. Grab an idea. Put it in your context. Add your voice, your experience, your vision. We all may start in similar places but where we end up could and should be pretty different. That’s what makes writing beautiful.
40 Ideas To Help Spark Your Next Article*
*most of the ideas I will put here are straightforward and largely focused on positive, encouraging topics, which is how I tend to try to write.
- Is there such a thing as a ‘gentleman and scholar’ in the 21st century? If so, who is that person? If not, where did he go?
- How did the invention of the photograph change the way we view love?
- When did the definition of ‘reading a book’ shift and how has that impacted learning?
- What should we do with all of the information we consume but have no practical, functional application for? Like how does Mad King Ludwig and his Neuschwanstein Castle matter to me?
- Why hasn't someone invented a clear mask that allows people to see facial expressions? Should someone invent this or would it be a terrible idea?
- Transferring notes from audiobooks to anything digital seems to be an archaic practice. What can be done about this?
- Will the concept of a zoo with animals in exhibits exist in 75 years?
- How did the concept of a zoo even start? Where did it begin? Why?
- What type of animal is most commonly found in a zoo and why? What can you glean from this? (Clearly, I’m on a zoo kick for some reason)
- Should Alexa be allowed to upkeep my home maintenance like ordering replacements for my furnace filter?
- Apple has tried to incorporate in their brand this word: “Privacy.” How can a single word impact a brand and what are other examples?
- How do you date someone in a virtual world? Is it weird or kosher to expect the first date to be over zoom?
- Why does each partner feel like they’re doing the majority of the housework?
- Should adults have stuffed animals and why do we get rid of our stuffed animals as we grow up?
- There’s always been fake news. This isn’t a new phenomenon. What’s changed in our society that makes fake news today seem so much more potent?
- What is a list of COVID-friendly random acts of kindness?
- What are 5 of the most unexpected benefits of being a student during COVID-schooling?
- How to effectively take notes during a meeting while still paying attention (much harder than it sounds!)
- How can a ‘quote book’ with your co-workers lead to increased unity and cohesion?
- What functionality has a cape ever really had for a superhero and who was the first superhero to wear a cape?
- What does the current Sneakerhead movement say about our addiction to novelty?
- It is possible to have conviction without being critical?
- Are most writers like car owners? Using the vehicle without really understanding the mechanics?
- What are the ten questions anyone who is thinking about starting a family should make sure to ask and answer before really starting to try?
- What are the four foods that no one should ever microwave in the staff kitchen?
- What’s the best commercial you’ve seen in the last 6 months and why do you think it stuck in your mind?
- If we could remember perfectly what we said and did, how would that change the way we showed grace and compassion to ourselves and others?
- How do you find the line between vulnerability and over-sharing?
- What are the most important life lessons you’ve ever learned from watching a sitcom?
- Why does everyone feel like people don’t initiate enough and what could you do practically to be a part of the solution and not the problem?
- What does the fact that we throw elaborate birthday parties for 1-year-olds tell us about our society?
- Is it possible to live a hidden life and still be happy?
- What are the ingredients of the soil that sprouts unhealthy fruit?
- Would you rather have 10,000 followers on Medium or 10 that you knew really well and who gave you great and consistent feedback on your writing?
- Do slack notifications actually help with workplace productivity or do the distractions actually minimize our effectiveness?
- In an age of constant cause fatigue, how do you effectively move your readers from consuming to acting on your content?
- When was the last time you were asked a question that you didn’t know how to answer or didn’t know how to solve? What did you do?
- Does your faith lead your feelings or should your feelings spur your faith? Or is there one side that is more correct?
- How can you work to separate your identity from your output?
- What does it mean to be sober-minded and what characteristics define someone who is exceptionally sober-minded?
If one of these ideas got you going or sparked another idea, creating a leapfrog effect, I’d love to hear about it. Highlight the idea that stood out to you or comment on this post and let me know how your writing went! There are so many amazing topics and questions out there that if we’re willing to work together, we can pair our weaknesses and strengths to create some pretty amazing written pieces.
Keep writing. Keep going. Your voice matters and we’re all waiting to read what you come up with.