Listen, I get it because I’ve been there.
As a writer, we tend to fall into the trap of reading all about writing and how we can do better. We learn all the basic tips, step up our grammar game, and binge success stories like they’re the latest shows on Netflix (even though we don’t really care about them).
The only problem is you can’t just read about writing if you want to be a good writer — let alone charge people for it. Sure, if you’re a novice and want to improve, reading about writing is step one! Read all about it.
And honestly, it’s a step too many people skip…
But after you’ve learned the basics — you need to read other topics. Good writing is all about engaging the reader. And the best way to engage your readers is with good stories.
You’re not getting many stories in articles about writing. So, you need to look elsewhere. I find inspiration all over the place! Whether it’s reading articles here on Medium, listening to podcasts, skimming newsletters, or scrolling on Twitter.
Stories are everywhere.
But if you aren’t even reading them in the first place, then your writing really won’t get any better. And so, I present you with my 8 favourite topics to read about that inspire me as a writer. Let’s get into it.
Poetry is full of stories! I love reading poems about love, loss, humour, and other weird stuff I can’t even comprehend. Plus, I learn new words all the time and I often get to see things from a perspective I hadn’t considered.
Another way to learn about poetry is not just to read it — but to write it. I’ve edited poetry books for clients sure, so this was a skill I used then. But there are plenty of more practical uses of poetry.
For one, I’ve used poetry in my social media posts. I’ll even use the on website copy as well. Poetic devices are super handy to have in your pocket and not a lot of writers I know seem to consider that.
Poetry isn’t dead — it’s just being repurposed.
Don’t know how to start that blog article? Well, pulling a story from a history textbook is a great way to hook your reader’s attention. Some of the best blogs and emails I’ve read start with wild historical facts.
Whether you’re writing a social media post, a blog, or even a sales page — you can easily toss those weird tidbits in. I know because I’ve done it and my clients (almost) always love it.
I spent 4 years studying Psychology and — of course — some people said it was a useless degree. The stereotype of a “psych” student at my university was one who didn’t care about the topic and their parents were paying for their degree. Yup.
Now, I certainly met some students for whom that was true, but I would like to argue it’s only useless if you don’t plan on using it. Mine would have been useful had I stayed in academia as an undervalued research assistant, but instead, I now use it as a writer.
Regardless of the niche that I’m writing in, I use psychology all the time. I reference studies I read, concepts and theories I learned, and I use it to navigate client relationships every day — because active listening is essential as a freelancer.
Alright, this could arguably also encompass the psychology topic as well, but I wanted it separate because I like the number 7 in my headlines, okay?
Scientific studies are full of interesting facts, stats, and even hilarious stories. Take the example of how Albert Bird invented baking powder because his wife was allergic to yeast and eggs. We can thank her allergy for helping us all save time when we bake recipes without yeast.
It’s also a great way to expand your vocabulary if you want to do scientific writing as a freelancer. To quote one of the world’s favourite scientists:
Science is the best idea humans have ever had.” — Bill Nye
5. True Crime
We’re all fascinated by crime stories, whether or not we like to admit it. From million-dollar heists that are still unsolved to the mystery of human feet washing ashore in the Salish Sea — there are tons of insane crime cases out there.
Admit it, you’re intrigued already.
One of my favourite examples of this comes from my pal Alex Cattoni. She’s started plenty of her emails with a story from the true crime world — and it works on me every time.
6. Pop Culture
This is quite broad and can cover anything from video games to movies, but it’s not as useless as you think. Staying up with the latest topics is great to make your writing more relevant or even just make a reference that gets readers who know the reference appreciate you.
Recently, I wrote an article on Video Marketing Trends for a client, and my knowledge of Twitch and Tiktok definitely helped me write it. I even got to reference when Rihanna took over a Sephora for a live product launch.
In a blog for another client, I even use the infamous Fyre Festival while I wrote about getting funding for your business. Of course, that was a textbook example of what NOT to do…
As you can see, you can absolutely use examples from pop culture in your writing and as a hook to get people interested.
While I do write blogs for clients in the tech space, I also bring my tech knowledge to more creative projects too. In a blog about wine, I might write about trends like virtual wine tastings thanks to zoom!
I love taking knowledge from one area and finding out how it applies to another, and that’s helped me succeed immensely as a freelance writer.
What’s the secret to being creative and writing things that are memorable? Well, it’s about reading stories and facts from all sorts of places, from poetry to true crime. Whether you’re writing a blog, website, email, or social media caption — there’s no reason to make it boring.
I hope this helps you expand your skills as a writer! Feel free to follow for more tips like this 🙂
About the Author
Victoria Fraser is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada who works with clients doing all things copywriting & content marketing. You can learn more at her website to work with her or say hello on Twitter!