Dear Friends, 

This is a first for me.

My suitcase is completely packed, but my flight doesn't leave until tomorrow night. I'm just so excited!

I'm going to the American Writers and Artists Fast Track to Success Copywriting Bootcamp, in Delray Beach, Florida. Every year I come back with a ton of ideas about how to use words to sell more and to grow businesses.

I'm going to warn you in advance, I'm seriously excited about this experience and can't wait to share what I learn with you. 

Today, I would like to share an article that was originally published in 
The Barefoot Writer
Watch for my emails this week!

Seven Ways to Generate Story ideas Without Leaving Your Home
Some of your best ideas might be in your house

By Mandy Marksteiner


Did you know that your house is an idea goldmine? If you're feeling stuck as a writer, take a pad and paper for a slow walk through your house. Following these steps will make it easy to find the story behind the objects you see every day.


#1. Start with a small area.


Inspiration is all around you, as long as you keep your eyes open and you listen to yourself.

Start with a small and well-defined area, like a closet, a shelf, or a cupboard.


If you're wondering how going through your closets will help you write better sales copy, consider the success tip, "use your own experiences" as the source for your writing inspiration.


#2. Use your memorabilia to practice writing emotionally-rich content.


Go through your things one at a time. For each item, ask yourself whether it brings up memories or feelings.


Take your time. Consider each tangible item and ask yourself what it means to you. You may have a cookbook that has been handed down to you from your grandmother, a sunhat you bought on your honeymoon, greeting cards from childhood friends, or that guitar you bought online and never learned to play (but wished you did!). 


Then, take out your notebook and spend some time writing about the memories associated with each item. If you find something that brings up strong memories (I found a dress my mom helped me sew when I was 15), carry it around with you and write down everything you can remember.


#3. If you keep a journal, look through it for personal ideas.


Your journals are a great place to find writing ideas. Journaling allows you to write without inhibitions or pressure, which means you can be yourself and experiment.

Spend an hour mining your old journals and notebooks for ideas. 

  • Use Post-it� notes to mark anecdotes that liven up your copy.
  • Type up sections that can be turned into articles.
  • Look for recurring themes that can be developed into books.

#4. Systematically squeeze every valuable idea from your bookshelf.


Finding patterns in your books can help you focus your career. Have you held on to textbooks from your favorite college classes? Do you have a collection of how-to books in one subject area? Have you purchased books to help you overcome life problems? What's your favorite genre? Use this information to plan your career and generate story ideas.


In Two Hours to More Profitable Sales Copy, Clayton Makepeace explains how he gathers headline ideas at the bookstore, because publishers pay a lot of money for market research. He wrote, "Every title ... every subtitle ... every 'also inside' fascination on every magazine ... and every design element you're looking at is the product of that research."


Search your own bookshelf the same way. Look at the words on the spine, the chapter titles, the cover design, and the content. Makepeace wrote, "I'm writing notes like crazy ... until I've shamelessly pulled every power word, turn of phrase, copy concept, or content idea I can find."


When you examine your bookshelf, be aware that these books represent what made you decide to buy. Get in the habit of noticing the books on other people's shelves. Notice the difference between what titles attract the attention of people whose interests differ from your own.


#5. Mine your file cabinet for old projects that can be turned into new projects.


It's amazing how much information you can gather on a single subject when you're working on a project. Once the project is over, can you use that information in a new way?


Last fall, I worked on a PR campaign. I now have a thick folder full of newspaper clippings, direct mail ads, and interview notes. This information can be reworked into a special report or a how-to guide.

Nick Usborne created his main Money-Making Website,, using information he gathered while working on a project for a client.


#6. Take a sensory tour of your home.


No matter what you're writing about, concrete details make everything more vivid. One way to use all the senses in your writing is to spend time isolating each sense.


Spend 20 minutes exploring your home with touch: Plunge your hand in the oatmeal, run your fingers through the carpet, scratch the wicker baskets, and hold the frozen peas against your cheek. Then, go through your house using your sense of smell. Squeeze the shampoo, open the spice jars, and inhale the flowers in the garden.


Move through each of the senses like this, and write down your observations.


#7. Always be open to new ideas.


When you're searching your house for ideas, don't worry about how you'll use them. Just keep expanding your mind by listening, exploring, and staying curious.

If you have any questions about how to use these techniques to build your business, give me a call.

Mandy Marksteiner
Copywriter and Marketing Consultant

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