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Generating Ideas For Articles

March 19th, 2021

First, thanks to Prachi for last week’s blog. As she points out, the internet is awash with people writing and trying to get that writing noticed, so it’s essential that you approach it in the right frame of mind if you want people to find and read your work.

Moving on, I’ve just been undertaking my annual ‘health check’ on our Comprehensive Creative Writing Course to keep it up to date.  I’ve always been particularly impressed by the advice given in Module 4 about how to generate ideas for articles. But, I suddenly realised that as we reach the anniversary of the first lockdown, it’s probably been very difficult for people to follow our advice, as we haven’t been able to get out, visit places, go to libraries and museums or interview people.

We’ve all had to lead a relatively ‘digital’ life and I suspect that this has had both its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s have a quick look at some of adjustments we’ve had to make:

We suggest that if you’ve been on a course, then you could write about it. OK, no face-to-face courses but they’ve proliferated on Zoom. So ideas for articles could include a humorous look at these – perils and pitfalls; step-by-step guidance for older students on how to cope with the technology; Zoom etiquette…

There has been a ban on travel but we’ve had a plethora of celebs rubbing our noses in it by tramping round our canals and coastal paths. But, many people are thinking ‘staycation’ this year which gives you plenty of scope. Mine past holidays in the UK for interesting places and write about them. Can you give advice on making the best choice of a holiday cottage? What about basic camping-v-glamping…  Could your own area (which you know so well) form the basis for an interesting holiday destination if researched and written in an up-beat way?

Are there online exhibitions and arts events that you could recommend in an article? You might be able to bring local events to a much wider audience than they would have reached before lock-down. If you sing in a choir, how have you and the other members kept in touch or made arrangement to sing together remotely? Has your writers’ group/reading group changed how they operate and will this alter again when the pandemic is over, of have you discovered some unexpected advantages?

If you’ve been home-schooling, have you discovered anything that might help parents to ensure their children catch up now they’re back at school? Could you write about being more confident and pro-active in a child’s education with what you’ve learned during lock-down?

If you’ve taken on a new pet while you’ve been furloughed, do you have any tips to help owners minimise the problems they might face when they have to leave their animal home alone for longer periods?

Older people have had to adapt more to online banking because branch staff and opening hours have been curtailed during Covid.  Has this been an easy transition for everyone; or could you provide help and advice on getting to grips with the technology and overcoming mistrust? I don’t think this change is going to slow even when we go back to ‘normal’!

Car buying online – I quail at the very thought, as I like to see, touch and smell before I make a decision! But if you find it a breeze, then there’s an article to be written, guiding people through the process and building confidence.

What about new hobbies undertaken and old ones polished up?

And finally, anniversary articles and interviews. No great change here – a lot of information for the former can be found online and, after all, it’s still the strength/originality of the idea and the timing that counts. And interviews can always be done by email, phone, Zoom or – my favourite – Whatsapp video calls.

Let’s hope that we’re all soon back to the kind of world where our suggestions in Module 4 are the norm for writers. But, we’ve got to acknowledge that some things have changed for ever and we’ll need to think more creatively  when we’re looking for ideas.

FINAL CALL: Don’t forget, the closing date for our Short Story Competition is 31st March and if you don’t enter, you can’t win!

My guest next week is Hilary Austin, with a fascinating topic –  how becoming a hypnotherapist has helped her to improve her writing.

 

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