There are two elements needed to consistently produce good content. The first is of course technique – how well you write. While natural ability certainly plays a role, writing is a skill that you practice and get better at over time. There’s plenty of free advice on the Internet on how to improve your craft.
However, the second constituent of good writing is what you write about. Being able to write beautifully and coherently isn’t much use if you don’t have the right subject matters to sink your teeth into.
At some point you might start wondering how you can keep coming up with quality content, without rehashing old topics or writing generic pieces. If you find yourself in a position where you have to come up with a good blog once a week, once a day, or even several times a day, you need to cultivate a mindset of idea-generation.
Subscribe to interesting or newsworthy sources
What intrigues you and what do you like to write about? Subscribe to sites you find useful and interesting and check in regularly for fresh content. I love reading Brainpickings.org and wired.com so I often take inspiration from there. I’ll see an interesting piece of research, and think about how I can use it for my own article.
Bookmark intriguing content
If you come across an article that you find interesting, bookmark it in Windows. It could be an interesting opinion, a new study, or even just a statistic. Even if you’re not sure how you’d use it now, you might find it useful later. When you’re stuck for inspiration, take a look back through your bookmarks to see what catches your eye.
Always have your notebook at hand
It happens so often. You think of something interesting, but promptly forget it. Get in the habit of keeping a notebook at hand for just those occasions. Not only will this help you remember those fleeting ideas, it will also get your mind in the mode of generating ideas throughout the day.
Do what others have done - better
There’s nothing new under the sun. If you have an idea for a blog, chances are good that’s it’s been done before. Don’t let that stop you. Just do it better. Do a quick search to see what others have done, and pick and choose what you like most. Add a point or two that others might not have thought of, and respin the topic in your own unique voice.
If you come up with a good idea for an article, you can develop more ideas around it. Write down your idea on a piece of paper, let your mind wander, and jot down others that come to mind. That one idea can give birth to many related ideas. Let’s take this blog as an example. The idea I started off with was how to always have something to write about. Here’s what a spider chart of additional ideas could include:
- Cultivating creativity
- How to make sure your content is unique
- Putting a fresh spin on a tired topic
- Where to look for inspiration
It took me less than two minutes to come up with four additional topics to write about. In cases where there would be some overlapping, you can space them out. Maybe write one or two of them now, and save the rest for later. Simple as that.
As you get in the habit of coming up with fresh ideas, you’ll find the process easier and easier. It takes consistent practice to get that creativity working fulltime. However, if we always wait until inspiration strikes to have something to write about, we’ll never write about anything. I like how Stephen King puts it: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”