I am constantly on the lookout for new column topic ideas. I have a special folder dedicated to newspaper clippings, ideas, notes and observations Iâ€™ve jotted down that could inspire or trigger a column topic.
Periodically I get stuck on what to write about and peruse through my inspiration file. It contains mostly articles from agriculture newspapers on cattle management practices but I also cut out and collect ideas on a lot of other topics from different newspapers and sources. Some of whatâ€™s in my inspiration file includes:
Animal behavior: their habits and mannerisms sometimes will spark ideas.
My kids: how their interests, hobbies, and manners differ from kids who live other places.
Ranch work: things that are routine, bothersome, mundane, and different compared with other occupations, and the work other men and women do.
My Environment: it could be home or work environment, what I like or dislike about it, problems that arise, and the challenges.
Things that humble me: living without certain items others have, living modestly compared to the rest of society, etc.
Family: family life, traditions, routines, interests, what we find funny, activities we do together and separately, working together, etc.
Shortcomings: mostly mine, but also our familyâ€™s, wivesâ€™, husbandâ€™s, menâ€™s, womenâ€™s, other peoplesâ€™/familiesâ€™, and the like.
Common threads: any kind of similarities Iâ€™ve noticed between me or my lifestyle and something or someone else.
Everyday observations: things that everybody does that no one pays attention to.
Small items/single items: any specific thing, like cowboy boots, fences, or a cow for example.
Once I find a Â few articles or notes I scribbled down something aboutÂ that interests me, I look at the topic from as many angles as I can and start writing them down. UsuallyÂ it triggers something that will get me writing again. An inspiration file is just one way I generate column ideas but the concept works in many other ways.