Have you ever wished you had an idea stash?
A stash is something stored away, usually in a secret place, for future use. Imagine you have to write a story, so you dip into your magical stash and grab a few ideas. You need to write an article or query for a magazine with a fresh angle, so you sneak into your idea reserve and develop an outline from one of your many choices.
[Tweet “I know, an idea stash sounds like a story by science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury. But it isn’t.”]
In fact you can do it in less time than it takes to prepare one of those supposed-to-be-30-minute-meals.
On Monday: Brainstorm
Think of five subjects you’d like to write about. They can be general. For each idea, think of some subtopics.
For example: Food articles
Sautéing vegetables – Slurping spaghetti – Frying eggs like a pro – Burning water – Crying over spilled milk – Getting kids to eat vegetables – Being a cake boss – Cooking for two (or one, or sixteen)
Don’t qualify the ideas at this point. Just jot down as many topics as you can that interest you and would interest the target audience. Do this for a full 30 minutes.
On Tuesday: Titles and subtopics
Take some of those ideas and subtopics and brainstorm titles. Start refining at this point. Write out as many titles as you can in the first 15 minutes. In the last 15 minutes, see if you can create 5 workable titles that you know you can develop into some solid points.
How to Help Your Youngsters Enjoy Asparagus (and Other Veggies)
Can Anyone Become a Cake Boss?
Smart Meal Planning When Cooking for Two People
That last one is the title of an article I sold. Keep at it for 30 minutes. If you finish early, see if the ideas you’ve come up with will spark some additional ideas.
Today, take three of those titles and develop an outline of 3 to 7 ideas that could become the basis of your piece. For example:
How to Help Your Youngsters Enjoy Asparagus (and other Veggies)
Make it the easy choice by making them accessible for snacks
Invite vegetables to the table so they are an expected part of weekly meals
Help your kids develop a taste for them by eating them yourself and setting an example that kids will want to follow.
For Thursday: Flesh out the subtopics
Take your best two to three ideas and continue to flesh them out. If you are going to use them for a blog post, keep working on it until the time runs out. If you’re using it for a query, you can develop it enough that you can get a feel for the length and flow of the article and then begin to work on the query if you want to (30 minutes).
Friday: Polish your gem
Polish the one idea you want to use next. For 30 minutes, work on making it shine. If this is a query, prepare it so that it is submission-ready. If it will become a blog post, continue refining it. Work on writing it in your voice and gearing it to your audience. If this piece is an article, start to work on transitions, arguments, openings, and closings.
By Saturday: Pat yourself on the back
You still have 30 minutes today if you need it. You’ll have one solid idea close to completion; but the best part is you’ll have 5 to 10 leftover, topics, titles, or even fuller outlines begun for another day. Now that’s motivating. This method is adaptable for stories, scenes for a play, or even books.
A bit of effort and planning, for 30 minutes a day, will give you a range of ideas for all types of writing projects. If you’ll give it a chance and use this method on a regular basis, you might find that it does seem like you have a magic sack full of ideas at your disposal right when you need them.
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