Could you sell an article about dreams to a
nudist magazine? I did! And you’ll be able to as well, once you’ve read on
and discovered what you can do to increase your powers of lateral thinking –
powers that can turbo charge your sales techniques and open up many more
markets for you to write for.
Imagine being able to get your thinking cap on
and come up with half a dozen original, unusual, appealing ideas for virtually
every magazine you like the look of – even if you know little or nothing about the
general subject of that magazine. Imagine how many more markets you’d be able to
A lot of writers make the mistake of pouncing on
the first idea they get – and it may be a good one – but the first idea to pop into
your brain when you think of a subject is usually the most obvious one. The beauty
of lateral thinking is that it gets you to dig deeper and reach those unusual ideas
that editors love… and don’t get often enough.
Let me explain. I knew nothing about nudism when
I read about Health and Efficiency magazine, for "today’s naturists". But I read
that the editor, like every other editor on the planet, wanted to see unusual and
original ideas from freelance writers. I’d just written a piece on ghosts in dreams
for another magazine, and I’d done a lot of dream research, so I wondered… could I
possibly write a dream piece for a nudism magazine?
Yes I could. I queried the editor with an idea on
nudism in dreams (you know the type – sitting naked on a bus, that kind of thing…),
and he went for it. Within the next ten days or so, I’d written it, sent it in, and
received an acceptance letter by return. So I thought I’d try the technique again –
and sold an article on erotic dreams to an adult magazine… with very little extra
And that’s how I started using lateral thinking
to come up with fresh ideas for loads more markets. There are several ways you can
use it, but the keys to doing it successfully are below. I’ve used all these
methods, and they all work equally well:
- pick a favourite subject, and brainstorm as
many things related to it as you can think of on a piece of paper. For dreams, I
came up with this – dead people appearing in dreams, naked self in dreams, erotic
dreams, relevance of animals in dreams, colour or black and white dreaming,
memories in dreams… and so on. Try doing this for at least 30 minutes, to make sure
you’ve got plenty of ideas. It should prompt some possible markets for your ideas,
- alternatively, start with a market. Pick a
magazine and brainstorm some possibilities. Don’t restrict yourself. Even silly
ideas can lead to good articles! For a cat magazine, I managed to come up with (and
sell articles on) cats in film and television, well known sayings involving cats,
the Egyptian links with cats, superstitions involving cats, cats through history,
and alien big cats. That last piece was actually sold to a different magazine,
which led me to think what’s good for cats is good for dogs – so I sold them a
piece on ghostly dogs, too. Lateral thinking leads you in all kinds of wonderful
- build a list of 20 or 30 magazines – all kinds.
Get yourself a real mix written down. Then take your favourite subject and think
about how you could write an article on that subject for each magazine. You
probably won’t come up with an angle for each one, but it will stretch your lateral
thinking skills and produce some original ideas.
If you use these suggestions on a regular basis,
I’m sure you’ll find yourself coming up with more and more original ideas in a very
short space of time.
About the Author: Allison Whitehead has been a freelance writer for 17 years, and
has had hundreds of articles published on many diverse subjects in both
magazines and on websites. She now works mainly for online markets and
shares her experience and sources at http://www.squidoo.com/smoo_publishing
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