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How Successful Freelance Writers Hone Ideas

hone ideasI’ve often said finding ideas is not the problem; figuring out how to hone ideas is.

Long ago I gave my mind permission to have ideas – lots of ideas. Ideas that are good (a few will be), bad (many will be) and indifferent. That’s worked. I’m an idea machine!

The goal, however, is not the quantity of ideas, but finding ideas that will sell. In most cases, each idea has to be honed or sharpened.

Here’s how I go about it:

A 10 word purpose helps hone ideas

I believe that every writing project needs a purpose. To hone ideas I create a 10 word purpose statement

For example, the purpose statement for this article is: To show writers how to hone ideas. Only seven words, which is fine. The purpose can be less than 10 words, but never more. My experience shows me that if I try to work with a longer purpose statement I tend to get lost.

Knowing your audience helps hone ideas

I love the saying, “if you’re writing for everyone you’re writing for no one.” I think I first read it at JonathanFields.com, but I can recall if he originated it or was quoting someone.

Think about any book you might write. I don’t care if it’s “How to Make a Ton of Money Overnight,” How to Have a Great Sex Life” or “How to Reach Your Right Weight in Eight Weeks or Less!” I can imagine a whole bunch of people who wouldn’t be interested, and you can too.

Knowing who your audience is, their pain and their joys, let’s you write specifically for them. For example, this article is aimed directly at freelance writers. Which doesn’t mean creatives of all sorts couldn’t benefit from it. But since I’m a freelance writer I do know the ins and outs of that and am much more likely to hit the right note when I write for them. I’m also much more likely to have stories that will ring true for writers.

Find a focus word or phrase

Focus words or phrases are terms most often seen in articles about search engine optimization. The idea is picking a word or phrase that will help improve search engine results. I find that choosing the word or phrase I think many writers (in this case) would be likely to use to search for the information I want to present, also helps me with the writing of the article.

Here the focus phrase I picked before I started writing was “hone ideas.” Similar in some ways to the 10 word purpose, I find also using a focus or key word clarifies my writing even more. When I know exactly what I want to write about it’s usually much easier to actually get the writing done. Conversely, when I have trouble with an article it’s usually because I haven’t really drilled town to the purpose or the focus word or phase.

How do you develop or hone ideas?

Write well and often,



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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Yes, and reading blogs can also be a time-sink… balance is the key.

  • Hi Anne,

    Inspiration can hit one from anywhere at anytime and a great way to try and stimulate that is by reading other blogs.

    Want to learn something new? Check out Preply

  • The news is very interesting thank you very much for the information ..

  • Thanks, John… appreciate it.

  • Hi Ann,
    Nice Post. I always get ideas my reading other ideas and make them a better by adding something new to it.
    Robin Khokhar recently posted..How can you make money by tutoring online?My Profile

  • Anne, long ago I read this quote:

    “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

    I’m always generating ideas, saving them to my digital voice recorder, and then reviewing them later to see if they are good ideas I want to pursue.
    John Soares recently posted..How the 80-20 Rule Affects Freelance WritersMy Profile

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