Monday, July 16, 2018

Generating Ideas for Articles and Blog Posts

Sometimes I think it would be cool to be able to pop a software program into my brain and automatically and immediately know how to cook, clean, care for kids, teach them, guide them, help them, as well as be able to calculate the exact time it will take to get this kid to soccer without being late to getting that kid to dance. Okay, so we don't all know how to do the same things. It's alright, because that's what other parents are for and that's what these parenting magazines and blogs are for: your valuable advice!

Some days ideas flow out of you like money flows out of my household bank account and food is sucked out of my refrigerator. Other days you might stare at a blank page, trying to figure out something that you can write about that might be remotely interesting to editors and magazine readers. 

Half the battle of seeing an article in print is coming up with an idea editors want to publish. Set aside some time to brainstorm article and essay ideas using the list below. Then choose your best ideas and work the 12-step process for getting published!

Keep files of ideas: I have a physical file of scraps of paper, things printed out from online, even the cliche napkin with scrawled ideas. If my idea well ever dries up, I can always hit that file. I also have a folder on my computer called ARTICLE IDEAS and it's full of half-started and barely started articles. 

Eavesdrop on conversations everywhere you go. I have gotten so many great ideas just by accidentally hearing snippets of momversations while out with my own kids. It's the best way to get your finger on the pulse of the parenting world.

Go through your old blog posts, email messages, and journal entries to find essay or article material.

Read letters to the editor in your local newspaper.

Rework something you have now that you've abandoned. Something you already wrote that needs a new life. I often do this with pieces I wrote 10 years ago that are dated. Something you have now that you've abandoned. Maybe inspiration will strike this time.

Write the birth stories of your kids for some inspiration. I know it sounds a little weird, but you might come up with an article idea, as well as have a cool keepsake for your child. I wrote my youngest son's birth story and out of it came two articles: NICU parents and after the NICU.

Come up with some inspirational stories.

Solve a problem you have now or have had in the past. Something you personally struggle with but don't think is a huge deal might be a VERY big deal to other moms and maybe you can pop off an article full of ways to help with the problem. A few of my own personal article examples include pieces on having a husband who travels for work, how to bounce back after having a baby (not just physically, but in several other ways), and what to do with yourself once you become a stay-at-home mom or during your maternity leave. Have you had a problem, posted it on Facebook, then received so many great replies you could have written a helpful article using the quotes and advice? Write that article! If you have a problem, many others probably also do, and editors will want to publish your piece! Something past or present.

Write about something you wonder about. When I was curious about virtual school, I researched and wrote an article about it.

Write about something you know how to do. Oh, the things parents know how to do that they don't even think are a big deal.

Write the opposite of your experience with a subject.

Report on a negative or positive trend.

Read editorial calendars.

Read writer's guidelines.

Read magazines you want to write for. Now this is easier than ever with so many magazines available online. So many are free online using platforms like, BlueToad, and more. Gone are the days of sending off for a paper copy. The world is in your computer (or phone!). Not all RPMs are created equal. While some may seem almost identical from coast to coast, you'll find some are more liberal, some more conservative, more crunchy, more emphasis on humor, etc.

Think about what's missing from publications you read. Think about what's missing from publications you read. Should there be more articles about single parenting? Attachment parenting? Special needs? Adoption? Large families? Homeschooling? Daycare issues? Pet care? Chores? Meal planning?

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