Running Out Of Article Ideas? I Wish I Had That Problem!

This post was guest blogged by Alex Shalman, who put together the Happiness Project with 34 A-list bloggers, and writes about practical personal development, communication, and productivity.

The first thing I thought when making the title of this post is that “I hope I don’t jinx myself.” See the things that I’m willing to risk to bring you guys great content? Actually I think I’m suffering from blogging diarrhea, as I’ve been writing and guest posting at least 3-4 posts each day lately.

In all seriousness though, I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had writers block! Each and every morning I jump out of bed at 6am (sometimes without an alarm clock) and get writing on my Dell Inspiron 6000 (I hope you think my writing is better than my laptop).

The Key Is Keeping What You Have

One of the keys to creating great content is to hold on to the content that you’ve already thought of. Sounds simple enough? I bet you don’t do this all the time though. I bet that sometimes you’re driving in your car, or sitting at a movie, and you think of an awesome article idea, tell yourself you will write about it later, and than forget it even existed. Am I right for some of you? Don’t worry I used to do this all the time, until I created my system for Never Losing A Great Idea Again that I’ll share with you here.

Great ideas are more valuable than gold. So why is it that we never throw away chunks of gold, but we have no problem with letting a great idea slip out of our grasp? ~ Alex Shalman

  1. Digital Voice Recorder. I find these to be so convenient when I’m out on the road, or walking around in the city. I get a great idea, hit record on my Olympus digital recorder, and I’ve got it saved for later!
  2. E-mail Yourself. You might be at work or at a friend’s house browsing John Chow or Alex Shalman dot com and get inspired. That happens to me all the time. I open up gmail, write down my idea, and shoot it over to myself for when I get home.
  3. The Moleskin. This is a new member of my Never Lose A Great Idea arsenal. I LOVE this thing, and it’s available anywhere on the internet and in most major book stores. It’s actually fun writing in this thing, and you can get a compact one to put in your pocket for when that great idea strikes.
  4. Notepad. I used to use Microsoft OneNote for EVERYTHING. It’s such a handy program that I highly recommend. Lately though I’ve been keeping my very strict daily schedule (more on this later), and my posts ideas on one simple Notepad file. The simplicity of it is what captivates me.
  5. Use It Now. One thing you can do with an idea is use it as soon as you get it. I’ve had times when I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with a dream for a great idea. I went over to my super amazing laptop and blogged it right then and there.
  6. Post Schedule. I have a posting schedule 6am-8am every morning. As soon as I wake up my brain turns into writing mode. I’ve been doing it like this every single day, with no fault, since February 1st, and now it just seems WEIRD for me not to get up and write. My brain knows that is has to be creative at this time. It took me about 3 weeks to fully settle into this schedule, but now I wouldn’t change it for anything, it’s perfect.

I’m sure the community here has plenty of more ideas on how to capture ideas, and I’m sure they have some very efficient methods that they use. So why not share it in the comments below? We would love to hear from you!

50 thoughts on “Running Out Of Article Ideas? I Wish I Had That Problem!”

  1. Alex Shalman says:

    Thank you for getting this article up John! 😈

    1. ViralKing says:

      Nice post Alex,
      Your Thumbnail pic makes you look a bit like ‘The Pride of Providence’ – Peter Manfredo Jr

    2. Nice post Alex, I agree with your tactic and actually blogged about it in similiar fashion here:

      In any case, I do like the idea of getting up and blogging at the same time every day so that you stay in a routine. I may try adding that into my schedule.

  2. “Blogging diarrhea”, that’s pretty funny. You know, I find that you never run out of ideas if you right down every idea that you have. Then (like me) you never seem to get enough time to get to them all! In fact, my problem seems to be that I lose all the little scrap papers I write them down on, or don’t save my text files with ideas in all the same places.

    I used to save all these in “draft” posts in my WordPress dashboard, but that’s not a very good way to organize things that are just still ideas. I know that there are a few “sticky note” plugins for WordPress where you can just jot things down for future reference, and that’s my next stab and getting all my “post ideas” organized!

  3. I use something called a Squibbler (desktop whiteboard) for jotting down ideas. I’ve only had it a month but it’s a life saver for a forgetful so and so like me.

    1. I have a horrible memory and to make things worse I have a horrible memory…what were we talking about?

  4. BuxRightNow says:

    Thanks for the article… Very helpful. My new blog at will be done tomorrow… See you there…

  5. I like your Moxie Alex!

  6. Terry Tay says:

    Great tips! I can relate to thinking of ideas when I am out, but I don’t write the idea down and forget about it sometimes. A week will pass and then I’ll remember. I think I need to use some of your tips so I can make better use of the ideas when I have them.

  7. eBayProfits says:

    I cannot count the number of times I came up with a good writing idea and then forgot about it.

    I also notice some of the best ideas come from when I’m slightly tipsy…what’s up with that 😕

  8. Caleb says:

    I used to use digital recorders all the time when I was still doing music…funny how it never occurred to me to use it for blogging/article ideas 😕

  9. I don’t have a blog but am constantly doing article marketing for my websites. Sometimes it is difficult to find good topics and I figure if I wrote down all the ones I have though of in the past I would never have that problem.

  10. Robert says:

    Lists!! Yes!! This is what I’ve been saying all along in my previous comments. You can keep your content by recording your thoughts and ideas when you’re in random places. That way, before you know it, you’ll have a wealth of content to choose from when you sit down to write a blog post.

  11. Richard says:

    Thanks for your post.. I believe writing a post on a consistant basis really needs motivation. Either from within yourself or from someone or somewhere. I would love to have too many ideas for a post so that I could choose what’s best 😉

  12. Aaron says:

    What is the moleskin exactly? Never heard of it.

  13. Aaron says:

    I’m glad I don’t have a problem with finding things to write about. I have a Ta-da to-do list bookmarked with over 50 ideas in it. However, sometimes I lack the motivation to write, which is my main problem.

  14. HipHopMakers says:

    Great Tips. Thanks

  15. Tom Beaton says:

    You arnt going to make many friends like that! You and your healthy habits, your natural earl rising, incredible productivity.

    Just kidding – I have seen a good number of your posts dotted around the blogosphere, and even felt pretty inspired. I am trying to retrain my body clock too!

  16. Too many ideas and not enough time to write them all for my blogs. I find that my browsing forums and other sites you can give yourself some more ideas about what to write if you’re truly out ideas. Going through forums, finding peoples questions and then creating an article to answer their question is great because you’ve helped someone and you now have a great article.

  17. Mayank Rocks says:

    Nice article. Thanks

  18. Robert says:

    I think that waking up early is a great way to be productive. I think Benjamin Franklin was the one who said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” That is certainly true. I am way more productive in the early morning hours than I am at night.

  19. Mike Huang says:

    Hmm…interesting points brought up in this post. I’ll make sure to remind my self of this. Thanks!


  20. Jacob Hester says:

    I just get sick of writing. Drunk posts are by far the most entertaining. Good points about recording your thoughts though.

  21. Barbara Ling says:

    A lab notebook, of course. It stays happily in my karate workout bag and comes out whenever I need to sit thru a beginners karate lesson with the kids. It contains my thoughts for the past 6 years in working online and ’tis amazing what ideas sneak out while both a.) listening to the senseis and b.) reading what was done years ago.



  22. Jorge says:

    Once you create an habit you have lots of ideas.

    1. Mayank Rocks says:

      Creating that habit is difficult :mrgreen:

  23. Syed Balkhi says:

    well written post Alex.. keep up the good work

  24. Great post. Never heard of a moleskin, I guess I’ll go check it out now. 😛

    1. Mayank Rocks says:

      Even I never knew.

      I googled it and found –

  25. Sometimes low tech works best. In most places I use a note book, at work I email myself, and sometimes when I am driving in the car I use my palm pilot as a voice recorder. Sometimes I even tell a friend to remember something for me and tell me later.

  26. Simon Lau says:

    I email myself or save drafts in my inbox when I come up with a good idea that I want to remember. Great way to remember and you don’t need to kill any trees

  27. I come up with brilliant ideas all the time only to lose them in the flutter of the day. I love your system though. If you are able to plan, and stick to it without interuptions you’ll find you can get more accomplished. I have read many times that for most people multi-tasking is a lot less productive in the long run.

    1. Mayank Rocks says:

      This has happened to me a lot of times. I tend to plan in morning and think will write in night or in evening and already forgot to write, by next day I have forgotten what I had planned lol. Silly Me. 😥

  28. I think the best ideas come when you dont want them to and you dont have anythying to jot them up.

    I would ideal save it on my mobile in the draft mode of my SMS

  29. Bash Bosh says:

    Yup, really great post Chow.
    Congratulations and thank you for these nice tips 🙂

  30. Jake Cohen says:

    This is good information. I always put myself on the spot by sitting write in front of the computer and telling myself that I only have 1 hour to write a good post. I really like some of the methods that you described, but I know a fair amount of them already.

  31. MR. NICE GUY says:

    Great post Alex. Me i have my good ideas coming usually at midnight. So, i make sure i have my pen and paper at the top of the pillow so that I can easily get it.

  32. Great info Alex! One of the things I do to never lose an idea is to write the title of a post and the first paragraph and save it as a draft. I usually have 3 or 4 going at once.

  33. Alex,

    Just checked out your blog, Gotta love guest posting on John Chow dot com! Anyway, good site you got there. I’ll be checking back.

  34. The Old Vic says:

    Don’t forget – remember to buy a pencil, get some paper, an eraser might come in handy too, or if you haven’t got a pencil try a pen. All useful stuff –

  35. Badi Dang says:

    Thanks for the great tips Alex!

    If you’re using Google Desktop, install “Scratch Pad” gadget and have it docked to the sidebar. Very handy. I am having it on top of “To Do” gadget which is another useful one.

  36. Budi S says:

    Great Idea
    Thanks for great content
    just keep writing
    how many hours daily do you use to write in this blog ??

  37. TC says:

    YA,running off ideal is a big problem for me….this article is helpful.

    Thanks john for put it at here…

  38. Robert says:

    Wow, didn’t know about the Google scratch pad. That is a pretty neat tool.

  39. 😛 holy mole-y.

    I am surrounding by idea tagged bits of scrap paper right now desperately urging me to de-chow and get productive… maybe I should try my luck at 6 am?

  40. watercarving says:

    I’ve got plenty of ideas. Just hard to find the time when this is just a part time venture.

  41. issa says:

    GREAT POST!! :mrgreen: i also used to have the same prob of having too many ideas — which ended up not being written. sigh! but with alex’s tips, i think things will change. yeeha! thanks alex! :mrgreen:

  42. Chip says:

    E-mail myself, notepad and post schedule. These are the most common tools from your list I use almost daily. There are, however, ideas that come to mind and leave just as they came. I don’t have time, I sleep, or I write something else. Damn, I missed so many excellent ideas.

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