In my previous post at Lifehack, I wrote about the different means of finding writing ideas. But what if you already have a lot of great ideas? How will you nurture these ideas so that they will blossom into a fantastic blog post or great content?
The key here is you need to know how to organize disparate ideas to write useful and well-written pieces.
1. Store and classify your ideas:
There are so many ways to gather ideas – books, blog posts, newsletters, suggestions from friends. With so many ideas swirling around, you need to find a way to file them and classify them based on categories and themes.
I highly recommend tools such as Evernote where you can store all your ideas and put tags on them for reference and/or inspiration for writing.
2. Draft an outline
Some writers don’t recommend this method as it is too linear – which doesn’t reflect how the human brain works.
That said, as a journalist who needs to beat the daily deadlines, I have to write quick and to the point. Hence, I draft an outline as a guide. I usually start with a thesis statement – the lead – to sum up the most important point of my story. I will then write down sub-leads – statements that will support the thesis and gather evidence (data, research papers and interviews with analysts) to put some meat in the sub-leads.
3. Use mind maps
Our ideas don’t usually come in a sequential patterns. Sometimes as we get insights they may or may not be related to the topic at hand. To see connections of what seem to be diverse collections of ideas, try using a mind map.
Get a paper and pencil and draw a box at the center of the page. This box will serve as a starting point. Write down any idea inside this box and then link the “center” to other ideas come to mind. You will gradually see a pattern emerging, allowing you to see the connections clearly.
4. Gather some index cards
Or yellow sticky notes if you prefer. I recommend this method for longer writing projects like books which have several chapters and can be overwhelming to write. Just remember to have a clean floor so you can out lay out all your index cards and re-arrange them to fit your theme.
Write down your ideas on your card. Keep them short – just one to two sentences per card. After that lay them down and analyze the connections -can you string then together to form a coherent whole? Are they arranged in sequence or do you need to rearrange them? This is a great way to put order to your to a longer writing piece.
5. Put a call to action
Unless you are writing in your journal, you are writing something to address a particular audience. So what do you want your readers to do after reading your article post or book? Do you want them to buy your product or book a consultation with you? Do you want them to click through a link or donate to your favorite charity?
Whatever it is, be sure to ask for it. You don’t even need to put the call to action at the end of your post. You can put it in your introduction or write your post to revolve around a specific call to action.
And in the case of this blog post, this is my call to action: apply one tip that you got from this post in developing a writing idea. Afterwards, contribute comments below on how that tip helped you in writing a post or book.