As a freelance writer you must generate high-quality ideas if you want to be successful.
Idea generation and development has been a key focus of mine for the last dozen years, and today I share with you what I’ve learned and what works best for me.
1. Be Alone in Nature
Get outside and do whatever you love to do most. I’ve generated the majority of my best ideas for writing projects when I was walking alone on a trail in nature. I’m away from my normal routine and the myriad stimuli that bombard my brain, and the ideas just start popping up: sometimes an idea for something new to write; sometimes an idea for what to include in something I’m currently writing; sometimes an idea for how to market a product or service.
2. Drive Somewhere
Get in the car and go. Long-distance drives are the second-most productive way for me to discover good writing ideas. I typically listen to educational audios in the car, and often something the speaker says will trigger ideas.
3. Go Places
Go someplace different and experience new things. I love to visit places that are far different from where I live. My home is in Ashland, Oregon, a modest-sized town in a mostly rural area just north of the California border. When I go down to San Francisco, I’m surrounded by sights, sounds, and smells that spark my brain in new ways.
You can get ideas from reading widely. I read books, e-books, magazines, and blog posts regularly, and in many diverse subjects: science, current affairs, health, technology. I also read a lot about marketing and succeeding as a freelancer.
5. Talk with People
Often a conversation with someone will spark an idea. I’ve found that discussing my ideas with people I trust and respect helps me identify which ones are truly worth pursuing and which are not.
6. Examine What Your Fellow Freelance Writers Are Doing
This means looking at what other writers in your niche(s) are doing, both online and offline. I subscribe to many freelance writing blogs and follow freelance writers on Twitter. I also visit bookstores and libraries to peruse magazines and books.
7. Pay Attention to All Media
When you’re on the Internet, watching television, or listening to the radio, be open for new ideas and opportunities. For example, I recently listened to ads on commercial AM radio (KGO 810 in San Francisco) and got an idea about how to improve the sales page for my e-book Writing College Textbook Supplements.
8. Ask Your Mind for Help
Just before you drift off, ask your mind to generate good ideas while you’re sleeping. As soon as you wake up in the morning, relax and see what comes. I’ve gotten several good ideas while lying in bed in that completely relaxed state that comes right after I wake up.
Lie down on your bed or the floor, close your eyes, and relax your entire body, including your mind. Tell yourself you’re open to new ideas and ask your brain to come up with some. Don’t force it: just let it happen. This has worked well for me. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, the physical and mental part is the same as the corpse pose that most classes end with. Do that — and ask your mind for ideas.
10. Ask People
Ask people you know well and whose judgment you trust what they think would be good writing projects for you to pursue. This has definitely worked for me.
How do you get your best freelance writing ideas? Share them with us!