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Writing – Brainstorming Ideas and Finding your Focus

Updated on October 3, 2014

Taking Notes


Beginning To Focus

Finding your focus in article writing isn’t always an easy task. Brainstorming article ideas often begins with grasping on to general subjects. You then have to break that idea down into manageable areas. If you plan to pitch your idea to a magazine, general subjects won’t make the cut. Instead of offering to write an article about horses, hone the subject down to specifics, i.e. Selecting and caring for horse tack; Your horse’s diet – Types of feed and supplements; Caring for your horse’s feet.

Breaking It Down

It is amazing what comes to mind when you begin to break a subject down into manageable areas. Write it down because you may not remember it later. Keeping up with your thoughts may be as simple as writing each thought in a notebook. Another option I have found to be quite an effective tool when breaking down a subject is the hierarchy chart in Word. See the example provided below.

Break Down Subject - Zoos

You may find brainstorming takes you to areas that may not seem to fit what you might consider the “norm” for your general subject. See the thought above showing decorating kids’ rooms with finds from a zoo souvenir shop. My mind went straight to animal exhibits, after all isn’t that the reason most of us visit the zoo? Then I thought how much kids love zoos and want to touch the animals. Suddenly I found myself thinking about some of the things I have found in zoo souvenir shops in the past. I remembered my children’s school mascot was a tiger and I found tiger frames at a zoo souvenir shop for their sports photos. Puzzles can be framed for décor in a child’s room. Of course, there are the usual stuffed animals, etc., but one may also find unusual items that match their child’s interests. There is everything from animal print bedding to light switch covers.

Another example of breaking an idea down is below:

Break Down Subject - Gardening

Perhaps gardening is something you know a lot about. Think about ways people with very little property could set up a small garden space. If they do not have room for a small garden, they might use large flower pots for their vegetables. Another option would be to plant them in the space reserved for their flower garden.

Pest control for gardens is always a subject of interest among those who do gardening or wish to try their hand at gardening. Carry it further with “natural” pest control, such as marigolds planted in with your vegetables. Tell your reader which plants marigolds help in keeping bugs away from and which plants you should not put next to them. There are many other plants that help control unwanted pests in a garden. Some plants even attract “good” bugs that get rid of the ones you don’t want near your vegetables.

When you break a subject down, you will find you have ideas for many articles. Each area may send your thoughts off on brainstorming tangent. Take advantage of those thoughts as they come to you and remember to write them down. When the creative juices are flowing spend some time milking it for all it’s worth. Follow one idea to completion; then see if you can come up with another subject to break down.

Everything written in your article should support the focus of your article.


Once you have the article idea you wish to write, stick to the plan. Keep your focus on the subject at hand and resist the urge to delve off into information that does not support your focus. If you are writing about how to cook Southern Fried Chicken, you do not include the instruction to put aside a tablespoon of fried chicken drippings to season your green beans. Save that information for when you wish to write about cooking green beans. Likewise, if you are writing about deer hunting and proper weapons to use, there is no need to write about your uncle’s elephant gun, no matter how cool you think it is. Everything written in your article should support the focus of your article. While you are checking your article for focus issues, be watchful for fluff. Omit unnecessary words. Among words most used unnecessarily are that and very.

Points To Remember

  • Determine your subject
  • Break it down
  • Home in on one marketable idea to write about
  • Find your focus
  • Stick with your focus
  • Omit unnecessary words


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