Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Authors: Maintain a “Thought Starter” File

Today I’m going point you in the direction of an article by Henneke Duistermaat from Enchanting Marketing. Henneke lives in the UK. She shows you when originality is good and when it’s bad, and she also gives you a strategy for exactly how to do it right. Enjoy.

First read: The Sin of Originality (and the Truth about Building a Popular Blog). Note: This article opens in a new browser window so can easily come back here to read the rest of this article.

ThoughtStarter1I use a similar technique. Henneke calls it a “Swipe File,” I call it a “Thought Starter” file. It’s a great place to gather your thoughts. That is where I store my good and not-so-good ideas. It’s one of the ways to overcome what some people call writers block. I rarely have this dis-ease. It’s fun to polish a not-so-good idea into something refreshing and new.

Where do ideas come from? Everywhere! They are everywhere. To find them, you must be receptive to recognize them when they show up. When they do… immediately write the compelling ideas down or they will most likely disappear.

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” ~ Neil Gaiman

When an idea comes and you automatically discard it as not good enough or think that no one would be interested in it, that is a mistake. A good writer can make it interesting. I write down some of the most silly things thinking that perhaps later – in a different frame of mind – I might be able to reshape the idea to fit what I am writing about currently. Sometimes that idea reveals itself in a totally different way and from it springs a totally different idea. Therefore a long-dormant idea inspires a totally new one.

“People struggling with writer’s block aren’t at a loss for ideas. Many are merely dismissing their own good ideas (often because they aren’t perceived as original enough) or they don’t want to put a lot of effort into looking for ideas.” ~ Melissa Donovan

In my “Thought Starter” file, I write (in my own words) my impression of what Henneke says she puts in her “Swipe File.” That way I can never be accused of plagiarism. On occasion you may see similarities, but never a direct quote unless I credit the author. I may not use these ideas until – at some point in the future – the thought reoccurs, however the ideas are always there until I need them.

ThoughtStarter2I write something every day. I have 5 Websites and 4 blogs. Something new goes up on each of my blogs every 4th day, so I must write something everyday. Sometimes I may sit and wonder what to write about. That’s when I look over the ideas that I started in my “thought starter” file but never finished. That file kick-starts my thinking and creativity. I often cannot wait for inspiration. I have to get inspired.

I especially like what Henneke says: “No treasure of blogging jewels lies waiting to be heisted. You need to know where to look.” And you have to stop reading purely for pleasure. I agree. Instead you need to begin to “study” content. Studying refreshing content is one of the keys! So is originality! Authors need to learn to use their creative imagination more often. That’s where new, fresh and exciting ideas come from. Sometime deadlines are quite enough inspiration. 😉 Other times the proverbial “aha moment” just happens. That’s when something clicks and I must quickly return to my keyboard.

“For me, a combination of two words on a billboard, or even two colors together, or a photo, or a comment overheard in the grocery checkout aisle – all fodder for blogging. Seriously, I’ve gotten more ideas from tacky casino ads as I drive across the bridge from PA to NJ… the blog never has anything to do with the billboard itself, just a couple of the words on it. It’s odd how the strangest combination of things can turn into a new blog post. But I have to write it down quickly, ideas are ‘easy come, easy go!'” ~ Nancy

Inspiration often comes from people watching. Leo Babauta once said, “People watching. This is an interesting activity for any writer. Go to a busy public place and just sit and watch people. They’ll amuse you, inspire you, fascinate you. There’s nothing more inspiring than humanity.”

“Prodigious writers aren’t simply lucky writers. They’re active writers. They search, they think long and hard, and they write their way through dead-ends in order to arrive at promising starts.” ~ Aaron Gilbreath

Some writers write their ideas for their thought starter. I have a file in my computer labeled, “Thought Starters” and refer to it often sometimes to write a new thought and other times to retrieve an old one. I got the idea for this article after I read Henneke’s article (Hmmm, studying content again). Hope this was helpful.

BONUS Article: Scribble, Scribble, Write, Write


Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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