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Where I Get My Ideas For Hubs

Updated on May 20, 2009

Ideas come from a variety of sources...

 For one thing, I clicked on "answer a request" for this one and chose to answer the question of where I get ideas for my Hubs as posted by someone in five pages of requests. This is the dead bored easiest way to find a topic there is. Skim over the pages of requests until one of them actually makes sense and is about something you know something about or have experience with.

I don't actually do that often though because I'm always coming up with ideas on my own without looking at the requests. Very often requests are for technical topics like using a particular piece of software or fixing a machine or doing some activity I've never done and never intend to. So there I am skimming past it looking for something that's relevant to who I am and what I have real experience with.

Getting good ideas is a matter of choosing which ideas to reject as much as it is finding something to write about. I noticed when I answered the request on "Why are so many people unfaithful when they know what a disaster it can cause" that it automatically came up under Religion > Christianity > Christian Living.

Ooops. Back up fast. Change category. I'm not Christian and no expert on Christian Living, whatever that means, which is different for every single church and group of Christians that I've ever met.

I moved it into Family and Relationships > Marriage where it would make equal sense to Christians or nonChristians or atheists and stuck to entirely secular ideas about marriage and getting along and infidelity that would still be relevant to Christians but doesn't exclude say, people of my Norse pagan faith who would be scratching their heads on why I went off into fiction pretending to be someone I'm not. So it may not count as a request answered anyway because I changed the category, I'll have to find out later.

It doesn't matter, it was a good topic starter because I'm 54 years old and very social, most of my friends are or have been married, some of them several times over, and I've heard all sides of infidelity issues from literally thousands of people. So I compiled my Hub answer based on what I hard from both the unfaithful and the faithful, the happily married and the miserable, to keep it as general as possible and as useful to any person wondering about that as possible.

If you're married and not happy, get counseling, don't just take it out on your spouse.

That one liner sums up my Hub #27 of this 100 Hubs Challenge that I'm doing, but I was able to go into quite a few specifics without going into anyone's personal confidences or specific incidents. The only personal thing I mentioned was bragging that my daughter and son in law are still actually getting dressed up and going on dates several times a month and act romantic with each other like they were still going together, which to me is a sign their marriage is good. So is their finishing up their arguments quickly and being special-nice to each other afterward. They both learned good being-married skills and are doing it really well, so I'm a proud in-law.

You have Opinions. Start listing a random bunch of topics about society, right and wrong, how to live and how to bake a cake and you probably have your own ways of doing those things. So write about that. Write from your heart and your gut. Write about what matters to you. If you could care less about society and it really matters that people are sloppy and don't know to get rid of the eggshells after separating an egg, well, write about that. Pet peeves are topics.

"Tips on Cleaning from a Compulsive Neat Freak" is a valuable source of topics. Many of us normal slobs out here do not have the neat freak's years of skill at managing household care and have no idea what life would be like if you could always find any of your stuff and never had to replace brand new stuff before you got to use it. You're you, who you are, things matter to you because they do. So stick your keyboard out and write about it.

Truly, your keyboard is not your neck and they aren't going to come to your house and bug you for doing it wrong. Don't put your real address up though, or they might. I do not want bellringers from any Christian sect coming over to waste their time selling religion, since I already have a good one and no intention of replacing it.

Where I often get a lot of my ideas is looking around me at all the wonderful art supplies that I have sunk the lion's share of my spending money into since 2005 when I got Social Security and actually had some, every month, after monthly expenses. It is awesome. I have had a kick and a half putting this studio together. I try anything that looks interesting and if I like it, I save up and get the biggest set and then I use it and do very cool artwork.

Before I sound like some extravagant spendthrift, keep in mind that it's been much more than three years since I bought a music album and during that time I've bought all of five movie DVDs, I don't subscribe to Cable TV, just the Internet, and I never ever eat out. Most people do have some disposable income. Mine is just targeted mostly into one particular set of hobbies -- art supplies and then a bit of it into collecting artwork, mostly ACEOs.

So... what is the coolest set of colored pencils that I have right in reach? Did I write about those ones yet? Oh cool, I didn't. Do I have some good art I did with them? No, I haven't used them for a while and all the images are on my other computer. Okay. Save that one for tomorrow when I do my Daily Art.

I started doing Daily Art and blogging it on a challenge a friend and I shared on Livejournal on March 1st. It really is a fun thing to do if you like drawing and painting. It can get your blood churning and give you something new to think about every single day, it guarantees a litlte five minute break in the day to do some kind of scribble or doodle.

It doesn't need to be good Daily Art. It doesn't even need to be finished -- you can work on one piece for weeks and post progress every time you put a new mark on it -- but doing Daily Art is a lot of fun and it often gets comments that can be encouraging. So that means that in addition to ideas for Hubs, I need to have an idea for a drawing every single day or at least the gumption to go back to an unfinished one and do some more toward finishing it.

I look around at my stuff.

I look around at the things I wanted to draw and haven't gotten around to doing, or things I wanted to write about and haven't gotten around to. This is always a much longer list than I can do in one day, but amazingly, both doing Daily Art and doing challenges like this HubChallenge help to carve that long term To Do list down to size.

If you jot ideas down as soon as you get them and stash that list somewhere handy, like a sidebar to your daily personal journal or a notepad on the wall or something, it becomes a good place to look for ideas. You still might not feel like doing any of the ideas on it, but the longer it gets, the easier it is to page through it and go "Oh yeah, I wanted to try drawing one of those shells that gal gave me, they were cool and it wouldn't take too long to do it..." and soon I have my idea for the Daily Art because I have the shell and knew a month ago that I wanted to do one.

I did that one months ago, the image is on my other computer. But you get the idea. The more often you jot down ideas as soon as you get them, even if they seem completely impractical or impossible or difficult, the easier it is to someday get around to doing them and work your way up to them in small interim steps.

I want to do a real stunner of an oil painting of a seascape someday with a dragon flying over it. The sketch is on a big 24" x 36" canvas I bought in 2004 and I have not let go of it because I have been thinking about it a lot and perfecting each of the elements I need to get it just right the way I wanted it. I practiced a lot on doing waves in many different mediums in the past four or five years.

I'll get around to doing dragons more often sometime and work out exactly how to do the dragon. I'll practice doing oils that are smaller and less difficult. At some point I will drag out the big canvas and get a layer of it done and then let it dry for six months doing other things. In a couple of years I may have a big, perfect, wonderful sea dragon painting to hang that will be one of the masterpieces of my life -- all because I sketched something beyond my then-current level of skill.

I am starting to really get it with the waves and surf, see the image I repeated in several hubs in several relevant topics below:

#28 of 100

#28 of 100 -- third for today! Yay! I'm on par.
#28 of 100 -- third for today! Yay! I'm on par.

Waves on Rocks

Waves on Rocks, Yarka soft pastel on sanded pastel paper, Robert A. Sloan
Waves on Rocks, Yarka soft pastel on sanded pastel paper, Robert A. Sloan

Ideas Keep For A Long Time And Generate More Ideas...

 Waves on Rocks originated in 2004 too, when I really wanted to get pastels again, had a windfall out of which I bought the big canvas and wanted to buy a big wood box set of soft pastels. I found one I could afford that had the most colors for the least money -- the Yarka wood box set of 185 sticks that has 130 colors and 55 extra sticks in the most-used colors like white, sky blue, yellow ochre and some earth tones. They're pretty good about which colors get used up fast in large areas, especially the sky blues.

It was on sale for under $100 and I got another $10 off because of a coupon I got in email. Dick Blick rules. I've gotten most of my art supplies at least 50% under retail by ordering mailorder or online. But this was the first nice wood box set of artist grade ones I had -- and it was a major disappointment because it did not have all the bright hot pink or red colors or vivid purples or screaming greens the cheap sets did. They're genuine mineral pigments -- but all muted or lightened with white. Lots of great tints. Not many pure tones. Some good dark earth tones -- it's a wonderful portrait set if you're into that and if you like muted greens in landscapes, it will do well for those. Do not use it for florals without some additional sticks from sets that do have bright colors.

I may do a Hub on that set in itself because I thought at the time its soft color range would be great for a nature scene.

I didn't get around to doing it till this year or late last year. Think it was early 2009 that I did this one. I had been thinking about how to do waves well, found a good photo reference, just felt like doing waves one day and practiced some techniques from a free pastels class I took online. The stuff in the class was all done with the super bright colors mixed to create neutrals. I wondered how the techniques would work using softer colors to start with.

The experiment was a success and this 8" x 10" painting is now promised to one of my favorite professional artists in a swap. It also brings me one step closer to painting the sea dragon because I got the water looking wet and the surf looking like surf. He doesn't have a rocky shore, but his waves do need to look like real waves.

I hang onto any good idea I get even if it takes me years to get around to doing it. They add to each other. They build on each other. Anytime I'm writing anything, I get tons of new ideas. My next Hub may be on Yarka Pastels and How to Use Them, because it came up as a tangent in this Hub. Or at least, an example.

So when you are writing one Hub and you get an idea for another topic, jot it down. Do it next. It was more interesting than the one you were doing when you thought of it, so you have some opinion on it and something to say about it. You may forget though, if you don't get in the habit of paying attention to every idea you get and promising that you will get back to it -- then keep the promises to self, over and over.

This trains your unconscious to generate more good ideas.

By the time you do them, they might change.

I could put in a lighthouse in the background of the sea dragon painting. I did some and I like them and had a vague idea the background would be more interesting with an island. I also wrote a novel with a sea dragon and a lighthouse near the sea, so that would connect my painting with my novel and give me a cool place to post it when the novel's edited and put in print.

Once you start paying attention to the ideas you naturally get for being who you are -- the topics that interest you -- several things happen.

The good ideas come up again and again. They feel new every time. Wow. I should do a sea dragon someday. That came up dozens of times before I bought the big canvas and got the sketch in that time.

Another good idea came up in an art class. Wow. Maybe before doing big serious paintings I could do little preliminary value sketches and test out compositions. I could do that with the sea dragon one and maybe improve on that sketch that was so much better than anything I ever did when I did it. This might mean erasing or painting over the sketch and changing it -- but it could lead to a much better painting.

The first version of it could be a little teeny acrylic ACEO for a swap.

I have no doubt that I'll come up with 100 ideas for hubs. I'm working on #28 right now and should be finishing #33 tonight before midnight, which is not going to happen because I started late -- but I'm chewing through the backlog by doing a few more than necessary on most days and hope to get caught up before I move.

Things that happen in my life are also ideas. I'm moving out of state. I pumped two Hubs out of that interstate move already and may still think of more angles on Hubs relevant to people who have moved out of state, will move out of state or are thinking of moving out of state.

I love my cat. I haven't even started doing Hubs about the funny things my cat does or the cool moments with him or the cat stories about our other cat and how they get along with the dogs, why my room is Cat Central. I'll probably do one titled Cat Central and describe why my room is the haven for felines in a home dominated by dogs and small children.

Write about what matters to you and you will never run out of topics. Or readers -- because whoever you are, much of your life and your individual weirdness is shared by far more people than you'll ever know -- until you start writing about it regularly. Jot down every idea and you'll have no problems thinking of more.

Then if you hit a blank spot, just surf requests and something will make you mad or happy or interested... and get the pump going again.

Happy writing, Hubbers!


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    • MotivationSpark profile image

      Chandra Sullivan 

      5 years ago

      Excellent hub; great info for a new Hub writer such as myself. Thank you!

    • Netties answers profile image

      Netties answers 

      7 years ago from Hollywood, CA

      Really loved your hub, and got a lot of great info from it that will help me, as a newbie! Can't wait for your next ideas!

    • robertsloan2 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Purr thanks! I love your hubs and don't care if they're not linear -- it's a great way to tell a story!

    • marisuewrites profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      A really nice conversation about how one idea or thing leads to another - with the main theme of do what means something to you...great advice. Where to start when writing? I often start in the middle, as you know by reading my hubs, then I work the beginning into it somewhere and the ending is always a promise of more...but that's my style.

      =)) gooooooood work here!


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