How’s it going? My arms are finally calming down from digging out on Monday, so that’s a good thing.
Let’s get to it for today.
I was going to talk about Eugene Schwartz again (like in this post over here), but I found something else that will be way more relevant for anyone who ever gets stuck trying to generate ideas for any kind of writing (especially fiction, but copywriting for emails, scripts, sales letters and more would be helped here too).
And I almost considered not actually doing this because someone has probably already thought of this (I couldn’t have come up with it, no-how).
Here it is in three words:
Check your bookmarks.
Not the ones you put in your books. If you still do that, awesome–I usually can’t find mine at all, and use paper. I’m talking about the virtual ones that you’ve put inside IE, Chrome, or Firefox.
Why? Well, if you’re anything like me and you don’t print off every last thing that interests you online, you have to bookmark it. I’ve got dozens of things from past projects, other people’s articles, heck, even a couple Google Forms I filled out to apply for a copy gig or three (odd, I know–but that’s how it rolls).
This is a huge goldmine for generating extra ideas (and I don’t just mean from actually reading the words people have written, which you’ll learn even more from). I mean noticing certain things about what you find, especially in people’s articles. Sometimes they illustrate their points with statistics. Other times they do it with opinions or personal experience. They may also use certain phrases, or other ones may keep coming up (just like “what-have-ya”). How could you use these types of things?
Can you adopt a turn of phrase for one of your characters?
Could you use a title idea from an article as a jumping-off point for a subject line for a sales email?
Can you take a piece from the author’s bio (job, education, location, company) and weave part of it into a plot? Does he or she have a spouse, or pets?
Can you combine what two different authors explained in a new or entertaining way?
And I’m not saying to plagiarize or rip anybody off–nobody get me wrong on that. You want to take the concepts (if you’re doing copy) and think about how to incorporate them into what you’re doing. For fiction it’s less restrictive, since you’re making things up–you want to take the core of what made that person stand out to you, and start your weaving from there.
So the next time you get stuck for a subject line, character trait for a sketch, or what-have-ya, pop open a browser and look at a few bookmarks. You may be surprised at what you come up with. (Just don’t be like me and spend too much time at it. Writers should read, true, but they also should, you know, write–a good lesson for everyone named Ty Mall to learn, too).
Until next time,