How to Come up with Good Nonfiction Ideas

5059969_sSome writers’ minds overflow with ideas while others suffer from a drought. If you struggle to find ideas for your articles, essays, blog posts, or books, you might wonder how to turn on your own faucet and get the flow going.

It’s really not that difficult to find a well of great ideas. You must at first act a bit like a dowser to find the source, though. It can lie buried, or hidden, under any number of things, and you have to pay attention to locate the source.

Sometimes we cover up our inspiration with fear and self-doubt, for instance. Or we might bury it deeply under old stories that we can’t or shouldn’t write. Or we may have pushed down our passions to work on other projects.

Once your dowsing rod had discovered the source, you can uncover the water—your inspiration—and dig… Then the water—ideas—will rush out like a geyser.

Find Your Well

To discover your well, like a dowser, you must explore different topics. Here’s a process you can use:

  1. Brainstorm a list of all the possible topics about which you might write. Don’t judge them or exclude anything that pops into your mind.
  2. Think about each topic with your eyes closed. Notice how you feel. Does the topic excite you? Does your body get warm, cold, or feel something else, such as energized, heavy, sad, happy, or excited? Do ideas begin to come to mind?

Any topic that resonates with you positively in a mental or physical way provides a clue that it could be a good source of ideas—a good place to dig a well!

Also, take time to read, watch movies, listen to videos, scan social networks, and spend time in nature or doing activities you enjoy. As you do, make note of what catches your attention. In what direction does your dowsing rod vibrate? All of these provide clues about where your idea well may lie. In particular, write down anything that even vaguely resembles an idea for an article, blog post, essay, or book.

Tap the Well

Now it’s time to take some action. Begin digging that well!

Choose one or two of the most promising location, and start moving some dirt. Here are some ways to generate ideas:

  • Do research on a topic. As you do, make notes on anything that seems like a good idea.
  • Read a book (or several books) on a topic. Highlight the areas that are of interest to you. Come back to these and see if you can’t find a way to write about them from your own personal experience or to do more research and turn the topic into an article or book project.
  • Speak to experts or read their blogs or social network status updates. Discover what is new in this subject area. Pull an idea from this information.
  • Attend a class.
  • Create a mind map of potential ideas.
  • Outline a book.
  • Attend a conference on the topic.
  • Meditate on the topic.
  • Ask people interested in the topic what their most pressing questions are; then answer them in an article or book.
  • Ask people interested in the topic what their most pressing problems are; solve those problems for them in an article or book.
  • Discover the pain points that relate to this topic; ease them for people in the target market.
  • Determine what the largest benefits are that you could provide readers interested in this topic; provide them in your writing project.
  • Check out all the existing books on the topic; determine how to do a better job than the other authors (conduct a competitive analysis), and then outline that book.
  • Read articles on the topic written in the last 3-5 years; put a new spin on those article ideas.

Do you have other ways that you tap the well of nonfiction ideas? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Leave me a comment below.

Copyright: vrihu / 123RF Stock Photo

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