Photo by torbakhopper. License
There’s no mystery here. Social media can inspire articles and short stories. You may want to use different sites for each kind of writing you do depending on which social media you use. I’ll use Twitter for my examples because of it’s ability to follow hand-picked lists.
Finding Article Ideas
When you want to write many articles on a topic, you can create a list of people you follow who mostly tweet about that topic. You could click the links for interesting articles, read them, and then write similar ones, but you don’t want to be a plagiarist. If the topic is new to you, it is a good idea to read lots of articles and follow their suggestions until you become an expert but I’m guessing you were already an expert when you chose your niche.
The best way to generate new articles using your Twitter list on the topic is to read the article titles and link blurbs without clicking the links. Articles are copyrighted automatically. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. You’re looking for ideas to capture. Where do you capture them?
You capture ideas in an ideas file. I have about 300 article ideas in my writing ideas file. An idea for a writing article goes in the file no matter where I got it. Some come to me while I’m writing. Some come to me after reading another writer’s article if I see that I would have written a different article on the topic. And some come from social media.
To avoid writing articles similar to ones you’ve read, it’s a good idea to gather at least a couple of dozen article ideas before you start using your ideas file. Put new ideas at the bottom and grab ideas to turn into articles from the top. This causes the article that inspired the idea to be a dim memory. It’s going to be your thoughts on the topic, not the other writer’s. That’s what you want.
For the article ideas from social media, you don’t need to have this cooling off period when all you see of the article is the tweet. Come up with your own title and outline your thoughts on the topic and you’ve got what you need to launch the first draft of an article.
If you spend a couple of hours on twitter, you’ll find yourself adding a huge number of article ideas to your file. This varies according to how many people you have in the list for your topic. You can always follow more people. Any social media site that lets you select who you follow can work this way. Pinterest also comes to mind. I’m sure there are others.
Finding Short Story Ideas
It’s a little trickier using social media to gather short story ideas. This time it depends more on focus. I’ll still use Twitter as my example.
You’ll want a list of people that tweet things that inspire short stories. Some kinds of news will make you wonder about the story that led to the crime, accident, social movement, protests, and other events. Tweeters who promote lots of different books can be good too since the blurb that goes with each book will mention the main theme without all the complications that make it fill a book. That main theme could be an interesting short story.
Again, you want the idea, not the same story as the promoted book. For news items, you can change the country, the details of the event, the scope, whatever it takes to make the story uniquely yours.
Your fiction ideas file is going to be a little different from a non-fiction one. You’ll want to outline a story idea before trying to write the story. It’s no good to put work into writing a story only to find that it’s so simple it’s not interesting. You’ll want to break the rule of working from the top idea. Work from the first idea that is outlined enough to become a short story.
Your story ideas won’t get outlined on their own. Read through your story ideas file and add to those that trigger your imagination. If an idea does nothing for you, move on to the next. This process will put you into the habit of looking for ideas and eventually one of the ideas will take off and you’ll write a good outline. Now you can move that outline into its own file and start the first draft.
The concept again. Use social media to gather basic article and story ideas that you store in a file. When the ideas have aged, read through your file and build on the ideas until you create your own articles and short stories.
Article by Ivan Izo.