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12 Things to Write About When You’re Fresh Out of Ideas

Updated on
May 16, 2019
Writing Tips
12 Things to Write About When You’re Fresh Out of Ideas

Coming up with writing inspiration is tough when you’re feeling anything but inspired. When you’re desperate for a spark of an idea to come floating out of the creative ether, you’re more likely to find the abyss staring back. Here are twelve things to write about when you’re not on speaking terms with your muse.

We’ll take a look at some fiction writing ideas as well as inspiration for articles and blog posts.

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Fictional things to write about

If it’s a short story, flash fiction, or even a novel you’re in pursuit of, these topic ideas will get the words flowing.

1 Get inspired by a song

Have you ever wondered about the story behind a song? Write about it. Choose a song that intrigues you, listen to it, and dig into the lyrics. Who are the characters behind those lyrics? What’s their situation? What challenges are they facing? Don’t try to recreate the song in prose; try to imagine the people and circumstances behind it.

2 Reinvent a childhood memory

Think of a pivotal childhood moment—something that shaped your future in some way. Now, imagine that things had gone differently. Instead of losing that contest, you won. Instead of being bullied on the playground, you were the bully. Instead of moving away from your teenage girlfriend or boyfriend your sophomore year, you stayed. How is life different? What remained the same?

3 Write about a person you see every day but don’t really know.

Invent a story for someone you encounter in your daily life. Write a backstory for the barista who always draws a lopsided heart in the foam of your soy latte. Imagine life as the person who drives the crosstown bus.

4 If your pet were a person . . .

We have a natural tendency to anthropomorphize animals by imagining or assuming they have human characteristics, so take it to the extreme. Write about what your dog would be like if he were a person. How would your cat navigate a derisive business meeting if she were a CEO? Your ball python is now a used car salesman. Go!

5 Write about what you wanted to be when you grew up

I’ve almost always wanted a career in writing, and that’s what I’ve done. But for a brief childhood moment before I discovered the magic of words I wanted to be a veterinarian. What did you want to be when you grew up? Write about what might have happened if you’d pursued a different dream.

6 Grab a writing prompt to-go

The Internet is full of writing prompts for people who need story inspiration. Some sources are better than others, but if you’re struggling to figure out what to write about, social media is a great place to start.

Things to write about for blog posts and articles

Sometimes you’ve just got to write a blog post or flesh out a content publishing calendar. Unfortunately, that creative well can run dry, and writing prompts may not help. Here are some ways to come up with topics when you’re in a slump.

7 Use Google to find related topics

If you know there’s a topic you want to write about but you’re not sure which angle to take, head to Google. Open an incognito window (so your search won’t be influenced by your browsing history), navigate to Google, and type a few keywords related to your topic. Google’s autocomplete feature will start showing you popular search terms, and those may spark an idea.

Here’s a tip: Use popular article title phrases like “What to” or “How to” in your search to improve the results.

8 Focus on a detail

You may have already broadly covered a topic like “How to Write a Blog Post.” Take a look at some of your big picture posts and hone in on a specific detail. In this case, you might write about something like “How to Title an Essay” or “How to Write an Opening Hook.”

9 Ask your readers

Use your mailing list and a tool like Survey Monkey to create a survey and ask your readers what they have questions about. If you have an active social media channel, that works, too.

10 Take to Twitter

Search Twitter for a relevant keyword or hashtag and look at what sorts of comments, questions, and articles people are sharing. Chances are good you’ll find inspiration.

11 Write about a time you failed

No one is successful one hundred percent of the time. Let down your guard and tell your readers about a time you failed. They’ll find your struggle relatable, and they’ll be inspired by your story of how you overcame the failure and learned from it.

12 Write about popular topics from a different angle

What are your highest ranking posts? Traffic is a good indicator that you’ve hit on a topic your readers want to know more about. Can you cover that topic from a new angle or offer up different information? There’s no reason you can’t cover an existing topic using a new approach.

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