Weekly Writing Tips: Coming Up With Story Ideas

The Weekly Writing Tips are a collection of best practices for writing and reporting at Global Voices. September's tips are brought to you by Rezwanregional editor for South Asia.

Writing GV posts can be challenging. I know that even for many regular contributors, it can be difficult sometimes to find a topic to write about. They may have already read a few comprehensive articles about a breaking news topic and don’t know what value his or her writing would bring (aka someone else has done it, so why should I?) or they may be suffering from a bout of writer's block.

If you have time but you're not sure what to write about, it always helps to think about the area of interest in which you'd like to write. Perhaps you’ve been concentrating on one topic or issue for some time but have skills or experience in other issues; then maybe you can try for a change.

The new authors can start with a topic that they know most about. In doing that, they will be able to write comfortably about stuffs they know in depth.

There are a variety of ways that you can come up with ideas for a blog post.

  • If you have a general area of interest in mind, the first thing you can do is use a Google search to find out more. Knowing about what have been written before can help us decide on our angles or focus, especially because at GV we want to highlight the less-talked about issues, issues that are not picked up by mainstream media as much as possible.
  • Alternatively, we can follow key social media influencers from a region or country and get inspiration or ideas that way.
  • Next time you’re leisurely looking at something online or offline that interests you, dig deeper into it. Perhaps you’ll find a story idea.
  • Often, your friends or followers will send you some suggested links. Don’t ignore them — click those suggested links in your Facebook or Twitter feed. You may find the inspiration to write about a topic.
  • Browse through interesting citizen journalism sites.I sometimes browse through Demotix (http://www.demotix.com/) and if I find one or a series of interesting photos, that may generate an idea for a post (it’s convenient, too,  because we can use the photos for GV!). Similarly citizen journalism sites like Video Volunteers (http://www.videovolunteers.org/) can be a source of inspiration to write a post.
  • Get into the habit of taking notes. You can use keep.google.com or simply sticky notes on your computer to jot down ideas and links. This is important, as we sometimes come across links or ideas that we cannot find later. Also we can use browser extension Pocket (https://getpocket.com/a/) to save links.

Once you've come up with an idea, the next step is to determine how you want to approach it. In the next edition I will discuss how to source the citizen media opinions and widen our perspectives.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

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