"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Uncovering Hidden Treasures-Where to find Ideas for your writing!

I don’t get writer’s block. I can’t afford to.
As an online columnist, feature writer for a monthly lifestyle magazine (for 15 years), and veteran freelance writer, my professional reputation and my livelihood require that I produce regularly! On average, I crank out about 7-12 articles a month, and successfully place about 90% of them, in addition to other creative projects.
Not bad, wouldn’t you say?

The challenge, over the years, however, has been infusing my work with fresh, innovative, marketable ideas, over and over again. I’ve written 100s of articles on relationships, dozens on the craft of writing, and God knows how many on other topics from time management, to money management, to health tips.
But, let’s face it, so have other writers!

So from where do all these ideas emerge? And how do I bring them to life in a way that allows me to be consistent, clever and compete with other scribes?
Read on and discover the clues to uncovering everyday ideas from some often overlooked sources!

Over the last decade, here are 7 ways I have successfully sleuthed my way to lucrative leads, landed monthly paychecks, and lasted in this business. And you can too!


THRIFT STORES--- It’s often said that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. But for me, the thrift store provides much more than unique antiques! It’s a treasure house of new ideas and themes for my writing. For example, one day while browsing their video section, I came across a library of exercise videos priced at about a buck a piece. I purchased six of them which included Richard Simmons’ SWEATING TO THE OLDIES, Regis Philbin ON FITNESS, the ever-popular TAE BO, and a few others. Am I a fitness nut? Not hardly. I took them home, briefly viewed them, and wrote a review on the best fitness videos for busy singles!
I sold the review, made 50 bucks, and every now and then, dust them off and dance my blues away! The same concept works for their bargain books. Additionally, their magazine section often provides a peek at publications that are not found at my local bookstore. This gives me a wealth of ideas and untapped markets!

CHURCH SERMONS---“In the beginning there was the word.” Preachers are powerful orators! And if they’re really good, it’s hard not to be inspired by their eloquent speeches on how to live better and deal with our own demons. The next time you’re attending a weekly service, pay attention to what’s being said, and what’s not. Jot down a few scriptures and quotes
(discretely on a church program, or in between your bible), and deliver your own message of deliverance to the masses!

YOUR “9 TO 5”--- Most writers have regular gigs. Often these settings provide as much drama as your daily soap opera! Whether it’s the boss from hell, the co-worker who’s sleeping her way to the top, or water cooler conversations, take note! Just be sure to change the names to protect the guilty.

RELATIONSHIP REVELATIONS—--Love is big business. And unlike other subject matters, you don’t need any special “credentials” to write on matters of the heart. Articles on how to improve your relationships, survival strategies for being dumped, and how to please your mate, are staples in consumer magazines across the country. An added bonus is that you don’t have to have previous clips to break into many of these markets.

ADVICE FROM YOUR MOM---I don’t know about your mom, but if she’s like mine, she’s got plenty to say! Why not capture her “words of wisdom” in a memoir, funny story, intriguing essay, or character in a creative work?

RADIO TALK SHOWS---Tune in while you’re driving or doing some other multi-tasking. They typically cover everything from celebrity news, to sports, to politics. Do you agree or disagree? Weigh in!

DIARY /JOURNAL REFLECTIONS—--Oprah Winfrey calls them “AHA MOMENTS”. What have yours taught you? What has your emotional and spiritual growth uncovered over the last few months or years? I’ve had a few of my diary scribblings evolve into essays that were later published in popular anthologies. Don’t dismiss your thoughts and feelings as silly or trivial. You just never know!

Whether you’re new to writing or a seasoned vet, these buried treasures should bring you a pot of gold in your quest for success! Happy hunting!

Thoughts? Ever tried any of these methods?


  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Happy International Women's Day! Thanks for sharing these tips. I certainly found inspiration for my first poetry collection by reflecting on the lives of my mom and grandma, then added some reflections from my own life. I especially like the "9 to 5" tip!

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 8, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Hi Yasmin,

    ...And what a great inspiration it must have been; your poetry is very moving, well-crafted and profound! Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. These are great tips, Jennifer! I have used them all. Snippets of ideas are everywhere, even in our current work. There's always a new angle or way to target a different audience. I've heard Hope Clark call it evergreen writing.

    I can't tell you how many times I've jotted down ideas in the back of my notebook during a sermon. Haven't told my pastor this yet, but I'm thinking he'd be glad he provided so much food for thought. :)

    Happy weekend!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 9, 2012 at 12:40 PM


      Inspiration is where you find it, right? lol
      I also get a lot of useful ideas from T.V. Pator Joel Osteen. Thanks for weighing in here.

  4. Jennifer:
    I interpret passages from the Bible and incorporate events from life, mine or life in general. I did expand a thought from a former pastor's sermon. I actually got that one published. Thanks for the information.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 9, 2012 at 12:42 PM


      Good to hear from you again. Congrats on the published piece from the pastor's sermon. I appreciate your input.

  5. Jennifer, As usual you are full of insight and excellent advice! I also have files of quips, quotes and pithy sayings that can add character and charm to fact or fiction based writing. I'd add another category - eavesdropping. LOL

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM


      Good point. I too have gotten some juicy tidbits from tuning into the small talk of others. Writers must be like "sponges" to absorb everything! Thanks for adding to the mix.

  6. I would say you know your stuff. I head right for the book shelves at thrift stores and flip to the backs of antholgies to see where the contributors were previously published, but shhhh! don't let the word out :)

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 9, 2012 at 12:48 PM


      I would say you know what you're talking about. :-)

      What a great, useful idea; I'll have to try that.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thanks, those are interesting ideas Jennifer,

    I also like the Thrift Store idea, with writing Reviews Something like that is a great idea, because on my blog(s) I prefer to write about products that I really know someting about, only to buy all the products that I (pre) sell on my blogs first might become a little costly.

    'Because I usually don't enjoy buying
    a product that I don't even know I like, just
    to be able to write a review.'

    Also recently when I wrote a post about a book about Laptop Lifestyle it felt a little silly to write about it while I don't even have this book myself (yet) Because of that situation I just put up a link with Reviews from other people that actually read the book. To at least give my readers some insights about the book.

    'So what you question about where
    Ideas Emerge from is concerned...,'

    Sometimes they justs emerge :)

    For example some time ago I actually created a special blog with Home Business Book Ideas to (pre) sell Books, there - even when I actually read a book - I discovered that I need to somehow write some sort of Book Review telling something interesting about it. And since I really didn't have a clue how to actually write a review, today I did a little research and actually wrote a little post about writing reviews.

  8. HP,

    I like your approach to writing reviews and you bring up some good points here. Thanks so much for adding to the mix. :-)

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