Last week I was on vacation from work and so I had time to do a lot of reading. I was perusing the archives of Problogger.net when I came across an article about how to use a magazine to improve your blog. The article mentioned seven ways you can use a magazine to make your blog better.
One use stood out to me the most: coming up with post ideas.
The article said you can use a magazine that’s not in your niche to help you generate blog post ideas. This intrigued me so I wanted to build out the process for you here.
Brainstorming with a Magazine
Here’s the process I used to brainstorm about a hundred new ideas for my writing:
- Grab a stack of magazines—It’s best to get magazines in a variety of genres, that way you’re exposing yourself to different types of headlines and content. If you don’t have any magazines laying around, head to the local bookstore or library.
- Grab a notebook and pen/pencil—You’ll need a way to write down all the awesome new ideas you’re about to generate.
- Sit in a comfortable place—A must for any brainstorming session.
- Starting with the first magazine, read all of the headlines on the cover.
- Brainstorm how the topics in your genre can fit the headlines you’re reading. For example, a headline from a fitness magazine might say, “Exercise 101: Your Guide to Fitness Basics,” and you could turn that around and use it for almost any niche. For this blog, I might use the following: “Writing 101: Your Guide to Storytelling Basics.”
- Flip through the magazine, reading the headlines and anything that stands out to you. Continue to write down all ideas that pop in your head. (Remember, just because you write an idea down doesn’t mean you have to use it. This is a brainstorming session, write every idea down. You can refine the list later.)
- Repeat with the next magazine in your stack.
This process is a simple way to generate a long list of viable writing ideas. And it doesn’t take more than 20-30 minutes per magazine (or less if you just look at the cover headlines) to do this exercise. This process also works well to help you snap out of a “writer’s block” moment.
Next time you have a couple free hours, head to the local Barnes and Noble, grab a coffee and bury yourself in the magazine stacks. I guarantee you’ll walk away with pages and pages of things to write.
What was your experience with this magazine-headline-idea-generation process exercise?
About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits Challenge. For more great writing tips, tools and advice, be sure to follow her on Twitter or Facebook.