June 4, 2008

Topic to Theme: Brainstorming, Freewriting, or Clustering

My article submission for the contest (I mentioned in Friday's post) went in at about 6 pm yesterday. I did as I said; I let it sit and edited it to the bone on Monday. Yesterday morning I spent some time working on my links and finding an appropriate picture to accompany it.

I mentioned my brainstorming in Friday's post also. Since the submissions are all in, I'll tell some of what I did.

The theme was "What's Next?" Content producers had carte blanche on topic choice. I went through a myriad of ideas. I went to Yahoo and Google top searches and discovered "Stand up to cancer" was in the top ten. I mused about it for a while and decided there would be too much involved in writing about and narrowing a topic like that. However, I may do something on it in the future.

Other than cancer, the lists were like a "who's who" of the stars. I knew the UC4C might get some submissions about the stars but I don't write about people like that. My thinking was on the mark as the actual UC4C clearly stated submissions should not be about who will get pregnant next?

On that note, I did think about writing on teen pregnancy. The Spears teen pregnancy, being a mother of a teenager, and the movie Juno kind of made me sway towards it. I opted against it. Again, the topic was too large to do in 400-500 words.

I thought about work at home, blog marketing, and citizen journalism. All pretty big topics...

What I ended up doing was taking the last three thematic topics, combining them, and narrowing to something I could manage. My topic is something I have a lot of interest in and relates to photography, videography, writing, editing, and publishing.

I did my best with it. I employed all the keyword and SEO tricks I've been learning and writing about here. We'll see how it goes. The finalists are supposed to be picked today and judged through the 10th. I'll let know when my article goes live for a looksy.

Since it's Wednesday, let me throw this in for Workshop Wednesday. I know I'm cutting away from my fiction practice again, but it's all in good writing fun.

There are so many wonderful ways to come up with a topic. Brainstorming is a good one. It can be done alone or in a group. Group brainstorming is more fun because you gather more input and variation. To brainstorm you take a theme and develop topics from it. Write your topics out on a piece of paper, one after the other, as quickly as you can.

Another great way to get to a topic is freewriting. In freewriting, you just start writing. Take 10 or 15 minutes and write non-stop, without constraint from grammar or sense. Start with a keyword or phrase and go from there. Write everything you know and let it ride.

A combination of freewriting and brainstorming is clustering. Clustering takes your theme and gives you a pictorial reference of it. I never could cluster very well. One would think clustering would be my favorite since I'm more visual than anything else. Oh well, that's how the cookie crumbles.

There you have it, my textbook post on topic to theme development.

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  1. Hi! Just back from AC, where I read your mind blowing article titled: Collaborative Media Editing is "What's Next?" for the Internet.

    What I loved most, besides the article of course, was the topic on "Writewith". What a fantastic resource. I can see this being a great idea for a blog with multiple authors.

    You are just full of surprises! Where do you find the time to fit this all in? You're an amazing person.

    Take Care,

  2. Peter, you flatter me...I don't sleep anymore. Plus, I'm a speed reader. I also type pretty fast.

    I am really interested in the Writewith site, also Aviary...I'll probably sign on that one this weekend to check out the tools.

    Thanks for checking out my contest submission.

    Have a great day!

  3. Some excellent ideas and suggestions, Muse! Good luck with the contest. And I agree with Peter's comments, your good output is impressive!

  4. Muse:

    I wish you luck with your article.

    Deciding on a new article idea can sometimes be torture. When my mind draws a blank I read, read and read some more. I search for words and phrases that bring back memories. Sometimes I get lucky - sometimes not. But sometimes, when I least expect it, a few wispy visions cross my mind like tiny puffs of smoke. They'll soon disappear, so at that moment the most important thing in the world to me is a pencil and a small notebook. Without out those two things, there would be no articles.

    Have a nice day.

  5. Good luck with the contest! Sounds like you narrowed it down to a great topic.

  6. Hey there!

    Thanks for all the luck wishes! Unfortunately, I needed a lot more than luck--I didn't win. I'll post the winner in today's blog post.

  7. Muse:

    If you are interested, I just posted an article about fibromyalgia and the new drug Lyrica on my http://seniortales.blogspot.com site.


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