Waste Not, Want Not – Never Run Out of Writing Ideas

My next-door neighbor got chickens over the summer and I occasionally feed them.

Feeding chickens has completely changed the way I clear the table. I’m amazed at all the things they will eat. I’ve noticed they pick cantaloupe rinds clean, fight over wrinkly grapes, and eat the seedy cores of peppers.

The food we toss into the coop makes the chickens grow and lay eggs.

Making better use of my leftover food reminded me of the value of leftover writing ideas. Here are a few ways to stretch your writing further.

Start with the raw ingredients in your mind

You can’t feed chickens if you don’t cook with fresh ingredients. And you can’t reuse your writing if you don’t write regularly.

Natalie Goldberg, author of Thunder and Lightning; Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft, recommends you get in the habit of completely filling one spiral notebook per month, and writing for a set period of time. She wrote, “At the beginning, I wrote for rounds of 10 minutes, eventually increasing them to 20 and 30. I told myself that if the atom bomb went off eight minutes after I began, I’d go on writing.”

Carry a notebook with you to jot down your thoughts, ideas, and conversations you hear. Months from now, this material might turn into the perfect lead, or spark an idea for an article or book.

Go through your notebooks

As you start keeping notebooks or journals, you’ll notice they begin to accumulate — physical proof that you have ideas! Periodically go through them and organize your favorite notes.

Start by cleaning out your notebooks, page by page. Rip out interview notes and put them in the appropriate client files. In your notebooks, you will find material you forgot about completely; things like unfinished articles, article ideas,