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Weekend Assignment: The Big Idea

Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis f. 02c).

Image via Wikipedia

Guest post by: Lori A. Basiewicz

One question writers are frequently asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Or some I’m told. I actually haven’t had too many people ask me that. I get quite a few people who want me to proofread their papers and give them free editing or who are working on a book, maybe I could… but not a whole lot who wonder where I get my ideas. There might be a reason for that. And it might be best if I don’t think too deeply about what that reason is.

Anyway, where do writers get their ideas? Where do you get yours?

If you’re an aspiring professional writer, you have to train yourself to see the world in a whole different way.

Way back when, the local freebie newspaper had a call for freelancers. I was determined to break in and thought and thought about what I could submit to them. At the same time, I was conducting intensive research on how to prevent the seasonal swarm of Asian Lady Beetles. These are the bugs imported from Japan and China by organic gardeners to eat aphids. In their native environment, they overwinter on the sunny side of cliffs. In the United States’ more urban setting, they’re attracted to lighter colored homes and crawl into any openings in the weather stripping, foundation, etc, that they can find. Mostly, they’re annoying.

One day, tired of trying to brainstorm ideas for the paper, I decided to return to researching how to prevent the annual swarm from entering my then home. That was when the light bulb went off over my head. I could not be the only person in the area having this problem. I would combine the two tasks and write about all the ways I’d discovered to prevent the beetles from entering my home and the best ways to get rid of them should I fail.

The article was accepted and published.

And that’s the trick to finding ideas to write about. As writers, we have to assume that whatever we’re interested in, other people want to know more about, too.

Then we have to go to the next step: Spinning multiple articles out of one idea. More buck for the bang, as it were.

For example, from the Asian Lady Beetle research, I could have written about not only dealing with their seasonal home invasion, but also:

  1. How to properly purchase and apply them to your garden for organic pest control,
  2. The unintended consequences of importing non-domestic species into a new environment,
  3. Adaptability of nature to urban environments.

Your assignment, because I know Barb likes to hand out assignments, is to identify one topic you would like to write about and come up with three article ideas based on that topic.

The Show and Tell Challenge

Step right up and take the B&B Show and Tell Challenge! Here’s how. Simply write your response to this assignment, post it on your blog, then come back and leave a link to your post in the comments. It’s that simple!

Have fun brainstorming!

Bio: Lori A. Basiewicz is a freelance editor, writer, and academic developing a specialty in fairy tales. In her spare time, she practices aikido and tries to catch-up on pop culture through Netflix. She blogs at Mind Like Water.


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