The power of quotations to end the blank mind, blank page syndrome
As with most writers, I sometimes find myself staring at a blank computer screen “accessorized” with a matching blank mind. I try a number of things to get the creative juices flowing, such as reading others’ articles or rereading my old articles in the hopes that I can take my big ideas, pull out an interesting tidbit, and expand it into its own full-fledged topic.
But I sort of stumbled onto something recently that works to give me specific ideas for interesting articles quickly. I’m hoping that sharing my secret will do the same for you.
Let me explain.
When I get my first inkling of what I might write about, I hold on to that flash of possibility and begin researching.
I Google the topic and link certain articles that are related to the possible topic at the bottom of my blank page. Or, if I feel so inclined, I read the articles I find right away. Then, I copy and paste certain passages from the reading that I might either refer to later or use to more fully open my mind about the topic. Of course, when I copy and paste these small passages, I always put the link with them so I know how to cite them if I actually use them in my finished piece.
These small pieces of research are one way I “tighten” my loose grasp on a possible writing topic. The more different research I see, the more my mind “plays” with the topic and begins to put the “puzzle pieces” together into a specific topic.
But my next step in fleshing out the topic further is Googling quotes on the topic.
Reading these quotes was my second step in the discovery process. For example, I read the quotes related to my possible subject matter and pasted them at the bottom of my page as possible support for the sky full of floating ideas in my head that revolved around the pasted links and passages I had already found.
And between the researched passages I pasted at the bottom and the quotes I found, I would usually stumble into a firm topic with outlined ideas on which to write.
And this method that I used may also be helpful to you.
But while I was following this method of writing, I found something special that was much quicker than the above-mentioned method (which was occasionally ineffective and always laborious and time-consuming).
I found that as I perused the quotes, I came up with new ideas that steered me into a completely different direction. And hey, for a writer with only a middling idea of what they will focus on, the different streets that these quotes led me down was a welcome diversion from the original “floating” idea.
For example, I noticed that the more I read the quotes themselves, the more an actual specific topic presented itself to me. I didn’t have to flounder around to find the topic. By reading the quotes, the topic found me.
Let me show you what I mean.
Let’s say that you want to write in a topic area that you know is of high interest, like relationships.
But, alas, you don’t know where to begin.
Google quotes on this topic.
For my example, I am going to list just one quote on the topic and then explain how it can spark ideas. By the way, I found this quote on Goodreads, which I will talk more about later.
Here’s the quote:
“A guy and a girl can be just friends, but at one point or another, they will fall for each other…Maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever”
― Dave Matthews Band
Let’s look at this one quote and explain how it can be used as creative inspiration.
How Quotes Work to Provide Topic Ideas
Quotes provide ideas for personal narratives or essays
For example, look back at the quote. Relate it to your life experiences.
The general idea is opposite-sex friendships, but depending on your individual circumstances, you have a number of narrative options right here.
- You could write about an opposite-sex friendship of yours that bloomed into a wonderful love affair or even marriage.
- You could write about an opposite-sex friendship that deepened into romantic feelings that threatened your marriage or long-term relationship.
- You could write about an opposite-sex friend that you feel could have been your true-life love and your regret over the fact that you never took the leap from friendship to something more.
- You could write about the tips that your long-term partner could learn from your relationship with your best friend of the opposite sex.
See all the possibilities for personal narratives or non-fiction essays you can grab simply from this one quote?
But personal narratives are not the only inspiration quotes can provide.
Quotes provide specific ideas to research
Look back again at the quote. Now, look at it not from a personal perspective but a research one.
Here are some possible research ideas:
- You could research the prevalence of opposite-sex friendships that turn into long-lasting intimate relationships or marriage.
- You could research the reasons why opposite-sex friendships turned romantic make for the strongest marriages.
- You could research why opposite-sex friendships are threats to a love relationship or marriage.
- You could research why or how opposite sex-friendships can enhance your long-term love relationships.
See all the ideas that this one quote provided? Amazing, isn’t it?
Where Are the Best Places to Find These Quotes?
The short answer is anywhere. Just Google the phrase “quotes on (insert your topic).”
However, there are a few places that have hundreds or even thousands of quotes on one site.
Goodreads is the site from which I pulled the above quote on relationships. Need more quotes to peruse? This site has 9,538 quotes on just relationships.
You can also try Brainy Quote. When I Googled this site, it had 1,000 relationship quotes.
I am sure there are many more sources, such as Pinterest and the like, but the two I mentioned above are my “go-to” sites to explore.
The Bottom Line:
Buddha said, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.”
The same is true of creative inspiration. We can take the words of another and use it as fuel to set our own writing ablaze. So Google some quotes, put your thinking cap on, and write that article that you didn’t know you had inside you all along.