Only a Writer Knows

WRITING NON-FICTION: 2 FAST Ways to Generate Ideas

2 FAST Ways to Generate Ideas for the Non-fiction Article

Last week we looked at generating ideas for Fiction. This week I have chosen 2 ways to generate ideas for a non-fiction article.

1. Read a news headline

coffee cup and beans

One particular headline some time ago said that there is going to be a jump in prices for coffee in the New Year. News like this can generate many questions: How do I budget for the extra cost of coffee? Is it time to go cold-turkey? I know, it is ludicrous; I would never just quit drinking coffee, but I just let my imagination run wild with ideas 🙂 Maybe they will come out with a “coffee-patch” to gently wean us from the stuff. Maybe I should switch to Coca Cola? See where I am going here? All these questions get the mind stirring, cranking out ideas. Let’s use the coffee idea again, (and here is another topic that we will cover soon, Slant). How could this affect the coffee industry if consumers started cutting back on their favorite java? You decide that this is a great idea and are going to run with it, so you contact some of the big coffee chains like Star Buck’s, Tim Horton’s, and Second Cup, and talk to the managers and buyers to see how the price increase is going to affect their business, how is it going to affect the consumer, etc. You Google and find out that there is actually a New York Coffee Exchange, and that there are two markets for coffee – the cash market, and the futures market, that statistics show that both men and women drink about 1.6 cups of coffee a day. Women seem to be more concerned about the price than men. Among coffee drinkers, the average consumption in the United States is 3.2 cups of coffee per day. The average coffee cup size is 9 ounces.

You can probably write a very interesting article about something as “not so simple” as coffee. What average person knows this much about the cup of coffee that they have come to depend on every day? I certainly didn’t.

2. Listen to what other people are asking; the answer they are looking for can be the topic of your next article.

Here is where those on-line forums can help you out; if someone can’t find the answer to a question, perhaps finding the answer is the article that you are looking for? Or, turn it around; maybe you have a question that you can’t seem to find the answer to – research it and write an article so that it assists others who may be asking the same question.

clown fish

What are your interests? Cats, dogs, fish? Maybe your cat has a problem with hairballs and you have tried all the remedies on the store shelf, but she is still coughing up hairballs all over your new carpet, and then you try a home remedy that works – ta da! A new article! Maybe two new articles if you can find a great new carpet cleaner that removes those pet stains in your new carpet!

My mom keeps asking me how long tropical fish live. She has a Gourami that has lived for at least 2 years now and she is curious about the life span of her favorite fish but can’t seem to find the answer in any book she has purchased. Is someone asking you for an answer that they can’t find anywhere?



Ideas for articles and stories are everywhere! Life is full of problems and adventures, suspense and romance, it is all around us. Probably the most important advice that I give you is to just be AWARE; be alert to what is going on around you and you’ll never run out of ideas for articles!

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