Freelance Writing: Where to Find Story Ideas

Freelance writing is a rewarding field which allows freedom and flexibility. With a laptop and internet connection in tow, a full-time or part-time writer can work from any location: home, vacation, local cafÃ?©, etc. Even though many people have aspirations of becoming a professional freelance writer, successfully breaking into this field is difficult. The competition is fierce. Moreover, writers often suffer from problems which can impede their ability to produce quality work. For this matter, complaints of carpal tunnel and eyestrain are common. Yet, freelance writers have to contend with another problem, which is not physical in nature – writers block.

What is Writer’s Block?

In a nutshell, a writer experiences writer’s block when he or she is unable to generate new ideas. Additionally, writers may have a unique idea, but unsure of ways to develop the idea. Writers typically have different terms to describe writer’s block. Some coin the state “drawing a blank” or “all dried up.” My personal favorite and often used phrase is “hitting a brick wall.”

Fortunately, there are ways for writers to generate new and unique writing idea. For the most part, writers have a mental list of topics they want to explore. Depending on the size of the list, this may provide enough work for a few weeks or months. However, once the list is exhausted, it is time for the writer to begin exploring new topics, preferably ones that have not received much reporting. Some writers are able to constantly create new articles topics. The key is keeping one’s ears and eyes open to possible topics that are cause for concern. For example, there is a writer who draws all of her article topics from “questions of the day” posed by a local morning radio show. This avenue has successfully helped her generate article ideas surrounding life, work, relationships, money, etc. Before allowing writer’s block to get the best of you, consider the following sources for finding story ideas.

1. Personal Experience

Writing about one’s own personal experience is a key way to engage an audience. The best writers are those who write about what they know. For example, anyone can write an article about how to overcome a bad break-up. Tips for coping are readily available over the internet. Yet, if the person writing the article has never experienced a terrible break-up, he or she is likely unable to connect with the audience on an emotional level. On the other hand, if the author is writing about a recent experience, they are able to use expressions or descriptive words, which in turn bring the piece to life. This is true of any piece. Personal experiences make perfect essay pieces and short stories.

2. Radio and Talk Shows

Morning radio and talk shows generally include the latest hot topics or new research. For example, last week a morning talk show included a piece on “beauty parlor strokes.” The following day there was a piece focusing on “the curse of the birth order.” Both topics were interesting, and unique. If working as a full-time freelance, it might help to begin your day by watching early morning talk shows or news programs with a pen and pad. Jot down stories of interest, and attempt to develop them into full length articles.

3. Magazines and Newspapers

In most cases, longer articles featured in larger magazines may have been featured in other magazine publications as well. However, freelance writers should make good use of shorter articles located in magazines. Articles of this sort are commonly found in the columns or department sections. Browse these sections regularly. Most of the time, the short article will include a tidbit of information. With a little research, most topics can be developed into full length articles.

Furthermore, take advantage of local newspapers. These publications contain a wealth of story ideas which may or may not be published in larger magazines. Draw on the story idea, and then create an article with your own unique twist.

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