Since 2008, I have had over 200 articles published by a wide variety of print magazines, and also many, online venues, such as Forbes (www.forbes.com). Additionally, I have written essays for the ACT exam, and have my novella, Mr. America Mirage, written under my pen name, Lee Doppelt, available for sale on Amazon Kindle. I write regularly for The Dollar Stretcher (www.stretcher.com). These articles focus on ways to save money.
As a long time occupational therapist, I write a blog for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners (www.advanceweb.com). The News-Gazette (www.news-gazette.com) has also published several of my travel articles with photos for their Sunday newspapers. And, I have had numerous articles about genealogy, home and garden projects, writing, and grandparenting, based on hobbies and other activities in my own life. If you read my own blog, http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com, you may notice that even for each publication, my topics cover a wide range of subjects.
Where does a writer find ideas for writing?
When people ask me where I get ideas for such diverse articles, I tell them that I maintain an idea bank. I always have my little note pad on hand as ideas pop into my brain; this often happens at unexpected times and places. When I get home, I transfer these ideas onto color-coded 3 by 5 inch note cards, one for each magazine that I want to write for. On the other side of each note card I print the name of the magazine, their web site, editor’s name, and notes about their requirements for writers such as submission guidelines, word count, and so on. Perhaps someday I will embrace and trust technology and will graduate from note cards to something more electronic.
Where do ideas for magazine writing come from?
Access to print magazines give a writer the opportunity to look through current and previous issues to see what types of articles appear, if they have photos, how they are laid out, and the point of view they are written such as first person or third person. One of my earliest published articles was in Back Home Magazine about collecting free firewood. Admittedly, I had never heard of that publication until I spent an afternoon perusing magazines at a nearby public library.
The children’s department at our library is filled with publications that those of us who no longer have young children would even know about. But as a result of looking through the shelves, I discovered Fun for Kidz, and had one of my articles about friends with disabilities, specifically visual impairment, appear in its July 2013 issue. I do some part-time work in our school district and make it a point to visit the school library each time I am in one of the buildings. Loads of ideas lurk within those publications.
My article in Ancestry Magazine about locating a long lost relative caught the attention of many who dabble in genealogy. Had I not spent some time at our bookstore near the mall, I would have never heard of that publication. It’s that simple!
Ideas can come from activities going on in your life
The majority of my published articles have appeared in The Dollar Stretcher (TDS). They have a print version that can be subscribed to as well as an online version. Many of my articles for TDS are extensions of research that I have done pertaining to home improvements and major purchases, as well as do-it-yourself projects like making yogurt at home or storing firewood safely. TDS has published my article about new roofs, driveways, gutters, fences, washing machines, kitchen stove, lawn mowers and other topics that I had already explored for my own purchases. I turned my research into magazine articles that were purchased.
I love to travel. Visits to Salt Lake City, Boulder Colorado, Hamilton County Indiana, Traverse City Michigan, and the Lake Superior area all appeared in our local newspaper. Additionally, I have had articles published about finding cheap airfare, affordable eating while travelling, and taking baby on vacation in other publications.
Prime Life Times is a county-wide monthly print newspaper targeted to seniors. Inside Glenview (now defunct) was the monthly glossy print magazine in my home town. I am pleased that both of these publications welcomed my articles.
Curiosity can spark writing ideas
I wondered who actually paid for Angie’s List, Craig’s List and Cyndi’s Lists, and also for PayPal. Research about those websites turned into an article that you can read in The Dollar Stretcher. Curious about selling items at the farmer’s market, I researched and then wrote about that topic. That article ultimately appeared in Forbes online.
Chance conversations can turn into marketable magazine articles
At a dinner party recently, one guest brought a dessert with some ingredients that she had found while outdoors foraging. As we got to know each other better, and I mentioned to her that I was a magazine writer, she flippantly suggested that I write something about foraging. You will be able to read my article about foraging in The Dollar Stretcher. One of the essays purchased by the ACT evolved in much the same way. (Because of my confidentiality agreement with the ACT, I cannot divulge the topic.)
Being in schools, especially high schools, is the perfect setting for writing ideas. A high school junior trying to decide between a large Big Ten University and a local community college for the first year asked me what I thought about that. That discussion turned into a magazine article discussing the pros and cons of community college.
Do I ever get writer’s block? Nope. When I am in the mood to write, I flip through my idea bank and decide which of my many possible writing ideas I feel like working on. Sometimes I am asked “What are you working on right now?” It’s a funny question for me because once I get started, I can work on an article from start to finish in one sitting, so I guess I am never really “working on” anything!
About the author:
Debra L. Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, accountant, teacher, public speaker, mother and grandmother and freelance writer for several print and online venues. She writes a weekly blog for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners and has been a featured columnist for grandmagazine.com and for Young Money and writes regularly for The Dollar Stretcher. She has been an item writer for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and an essay writer for the ACT. She speaks to high school students who are aspiring writers and has taught magazine writing classes through her local public school adult education program. She is consumed with hobbies including genealogy and do-it-yourself projects at home. She had articles published about all of the above. Learn more about Ms. Karplus at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.
Also by Debra Karplus:
1. Freelance Magazine Writing, It’s My Business (article)
2. How to Find Paid Writing Opportunities in Unexpected Places (article)
3. How to Conduct a Creative Writing Class for Children (article)
4. Sell Your Non-fiction Article by Writing a Winning Query Letter
5. 7 Effective Ways to Market your Articles (article)
6. Breaking into New Markets with your Freelance Writing (article)
7. Generate More Writing Opportunities with an Online Presence (article)
8. How to Make Your Article SEO-Friendly Before Selling It (article)
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