How to Create Writing Topics Out of Thin Air

How to Create Writing Topics Out of Thin Air

If you’re an introvert like most writers (*raises hand*), you don’t lead the kind of lifestyle that lends itself to risk-taking ventures every day.

So topics like, “How I Survived a 30-Minute Helicopter Ride to the ER After Falling Off an Elephant During an African Safari” won’t appear on many of your subject lines.

If ever.

And staring at a blinking cursor doesn’t (usually) do a whole lot to generate ideas.

One tactic that does work: Ask yourself… what would Seinfeld do?

In case you’re one of the three people who’ve never seen the show, Seinfeld is known as “the show about nothing.”

The writers take the smallest life situations and create an entire episode around it.

Because when you take any situation and look at it under a microscope – much like looking at a magnified leaf that comes alive with a totally new perspective – you find all kinds of nuances and offshoots to latch onto and BAM! you’re down a rabbit hole of adventures.

For example, I once wrote an entire blog post about the morning I was headed to the gym and our garage door refused to open.

I described the effort as both my husband and I tried to manually lift the door in vain.

I included the emotional roller coaster of being primed to work out and knowing I could not get there.

This led to a discussion about how to make progress and what to do when things don’t go your way.

I’m writing this during the quarantine (shout out to archeologists find this computer in the aftermath!), which has reduced my “minimal social interaction” level to net zero.

But… as I sit here, gardeners are outside my window.

  • Do they know I’m on the other side of this window and can hear them singing to themselves?
  • Why do they knock the hummingbird feeder off its stand every time they’re here? Do they have something against tiny, defenseless birds?
  • Why does mulch always smell so horrible? I once read about a version that smells like chocolate chip cookies. Can’t they use that instead of the one that smells like manure?

And so on…

Any one of these leads could turn into something. If not, they could spark an idea.

So my point is this: Look at all the little things you do each day as potential fodder for a topic.

Pay attention to the minutia, the details of your experience:

  • What was said?
  • How did you feel?
  • What were you thinking?
  • What do you think others were feeling?
  • Can you find humor in the situation?

All of these questions give life to your writing and drop readers right smack dab into the center of the action.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll never be able to blame writer’s block.


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