Traditional Publishing

Finding Ideas To Write About

By Marcella Simmons
Freelance Writer – Monday March 29, 2021

Ideas are everywhere. They are in your home, your car, at your work - you can find ideas at the park, the grocery store, the doctor's office, at school or in your bed. Ideas happen everyday, non-stop and you can use them in both fiction and nonfiction as well as poetry. Look around you.

Ever thought about how many airbags are in a car and where they may be located?

Have you figured out how they work? Several nonfiction article ideas might be: "The Dangers of Airbags" or "What the Manufacturer Don't Want You to Know" or "How Many Airbags Are In Your Car?" or "Where Are the Airbags in Your Car (Type of Vehicle)?"

One way to find story ideas is to be observant in public places. Listen to the people around you. Let them do the talking. The young mother in the check out line has an autistic son along with two smaller children. She is telling the clerk how she deals with this situation day-by-day and explains that by 8:30 p.m., the kids are in bed and by that time, she is so exhausted that she falls asleep on the sofa. The dinner dishes never get done on time, and she is so tired that she doesn't even have time for a shower.

The check out clerk agrees with her and explains how she handles going to college and working every evening at the supermarket until 10 p.m. and then going home and doing her homework every night.

By being observant, you opened up several possibilities for a story. You could possibly write a how-to piece for young mothers on how to cope with kids and relax after a long day or you can do an article about coping with work and school and the in-betweens for a woman's magazine such as Good House Keeping or Redbook. Articles that help the reader find ways to handle situations like the two women mentioned above are types of stories that editors love. It's what sells their magazines.

Suppose your three year son has had an allergic reaction to types of shell fish. There's  a possible story just waiting to happen. An article on "Childhood Allergies" or "Coping with Allergies in Children" or "Is your Child Allergic?" are great article ideas for parenting magazines. A little research and a few quotes from your child's pediatricians (get his/her permission first) can turn a dull article into a salable one.

Write an article for a parenting magazine about your child's allergy explaining symptoms to look for and what a parent is to do if the child is allergic to something. Find out all you can about the allergy so that you may be able to help other mothers understand the seriousness of a child being allergic to different types of shell fish. You may use other allergies to write about..

Read writers guidelines of various publications that you'd like to write for. Read back issues and a couple of current issues to get a feel for what that publication is looking for. Another way to know what the magazine is buying is to read the advertisements. These ads can tell you a whole lot about the magazine you're pitching to.

Finding ideas to write about is only half the battle. The other half is writing it and getting an editor to accept it. Write clearly and use language everyday readers can understand, but do keep it interesting. After you've written your article, put it out of sight for a few days before editing. You'll have a fresh approach at editing. Revise and polish your story before submitting to a publication.

If you're submitting via email, include a cover letter and contact information. If you mail it via USPS, always include a self-addressed-stamped-envelope along with a cover a letter.

After you write your story or article and have submitted it to an editor, start looking for other story ideas. Turn old ideas into new ones.

About the Author

Marcella has been writing since 1988. Her work has appeared in Authorship, National Writers Association, Primary Treasure, The Guide Magazine and Our Little Friend, Smarty Pants for Kids, Funds for Writers, First Writer Newsletter and Adelaide Literary Magazine, to name a few.