Finding 100 things to write about

Posted: 26 January, 2012 in Uncategorized

As part of my journalism studies years ago, I was asked to make a list of 100 things to write about.  Lucky for me this wasn’t a graded assignment because I couldn’t do it.  I had no idea how difficult it was going to be and, as hard as I tried, I could not list 100 subjects to write about.

I have thought about this often since then, not just because I couldn’t do it, but because my tutor did it so easily. In fact, he compiled a list of 1000 things to write about.

Feeling a little stuck for ideas today, I decided to give it another shot.  Even now, all these years later, this is not an easy thing to do.  At the moment I’m stuck on 57.  I think my problem is that I can think of the ideas quick enough, but instantly a little voice comes into my head that says, “That’s stupid!” and I don’t write it down.  If I were to just write down that initial idea without thinking about it, I’d have my list of 100 things in no time.

This exercise is great for motivation.  It gets me thinking outside the box and has me looking at things in a different way. When I’m really stuck I start looking around me and thinking about how I can turn something average into something interesting.

I remember reading an essay by Brenda Miller a few years ago.  The essay was called A Braided Heart: Shaping the Lyric Essay and in it she turned something as boring as bread into one of my favourite ever examples of superb writing.  It’s an important reminder to me of how great writing can make the ordinary extraordinary; how an average everyday item can be turned into something brilliant simply by introducing a new way of looking at it.

So, I’ve finished my list of 100 things to write about (104 actually) and the only thing to do now is choose which topic I will explore first. It might be a busy day after all!


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