Thursday 5 March 2015

Twenty Tips to Find Inspiration for a Newspaper or Magazine Article

"The feature writer who doesn't have two or three projects bubbling on his own stove is doing only half the job." (William Blundell)

So you want to write a newspaper or magazine article.  Where do you find your ideas?   Here are twenty tried and true tips to finding inspiration for your article.  Before you know it, your fingers will be tapping a mile a minute on the keyboard.

1.  Hop in the shower

It's in the shower that many people are hit with a sudden brainstorm.  The warm relaxing water helps to calm and focus the mind.

2.  Put your subconscious to work

Napoleon Hill went to bed one night, asking his subconscious for an appropriate title for the book he was writing.  At 2 am, he suddenly awoke, with a title -- Think and Grow Rich -- the book that sold 20 million copies.  For more information, see

3.  Visit the local library

Visit the library which is constantly receiving new material.  Here is a link to the Brantford Library at

4.  Visit the bookstore

Jot down book titles which you can look up at the library to save yourself money.

5.  Peruse the newsstand or magazine rack

The New Yorker and Reader's Digest are two good magazines for inspiration.

6.  Read online newspaper or magazine articles.  Newspapers will often offer a few articles to read free of charge.  You can also peruse their archives.

7.  Read junk mail

Learn about new products, stores, annual events or human interest subjects.

8.  Use all five senses to observe

Practise the art of good listening.  But don't neglect the other four senses.  A good story incorporates noises, smells, tastes, etc. to draw the reader in.  Read about employing the five sense at

9.  Tap into your own experience

Write about delivering your new baby, changing jobs, your recent divorce, your exotic trip or your rare disease.  Steve Fishman turned his brain hemorrhage into an award winning article as well as a book A Bomb in the Brain (

10.  Ask PR people for ideas

PR people can be full of ideas.  However, they usually have an agenda.  They can give you access, however, to key experts and the can provide important background information about a topic.

11.  Keep your notebook handy

You may come up with the perfect idea when lying in bed, or while playing with your toddler at the park, or while riding on the train.  Have your notebook with you to write it down.  By the way, buy a good solid notebook small enough to fit in your pocket or purse.

12.  Attend a lecture

You don't have to be a college or university student to do this.  Sometimes local libraries have speakers.  It's a great way to get an expert's point of view on a topic.  Here is an inspirational lecture by Randy Pausch which turned into a book The Last Lecture

13.  Read press releases

Apparently is a great site for science topics.

14.  Write morning pages

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, recommends that all artists write morning pages each day to clear the cobwebs out of their brain.  You can do it manually or online at

15.  Read blog sites

Read the top ten blogs on the topic in question.  Read what comments people have written in response to the posts.

16.  Debunk myths

Read a 2005 Popular Mechanics article which debunks the myths of 9/11 at

17.  Conduct an interview

Writer Patricia Fry attended her grandson's Little League game where she got a lucrative topic for an article.  The person sitting beside her was a storyteller.  Their conversation sparked "The Healing Power of Storytelling".  Visit

18.  Write about your hobby

Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy turned his love of travel into a second career as a travel writer.  Visit

19.  Follow trends

Writer Patricia Fry wrote an article about how to help children with the grieving process.  A magazine held on to her pitch for months.  Then the Oklahoma Bombing happened in 1995 (  All of a sudden, her idea was marketable.

20  People watch

Visit the park or a cafe. Observe people in their everyday routines.  There are stories everywhere, just waiting to be discovered.  See my post "Underneath the Ordinary Lies the Extraordinary" at

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