My Inspiration File

I am constantly on the lookout for new column topic ideas. I have a special folder dedicated to newspaper clippings, ideas, notes and observations I’ve jotted down that could inspire or trigger a column topic.


Periodically I get stuck on what to write about and peruse through my inspiration file. It contains mostly articles from agriculture newspapers on cattle management practices but I also cut out and collect ideas on a lot of other topics from different newspapers and sources. Some of what’s in my inspiration file includes:

Animal behavior: their habits and mannerisms sometimes will spark ideas.

My kids: how their interests, hobbies, and manners differ from kids who live other places.

Ranch work: things that are routine, bothersome, mundane, and different compared with other occupations, and the work other men and women do.

My Environment: it could be home or work environment, what I like or dislike about it, problems that arise, and the challenges.

Things that humble me: living without certain items others have, living modestly compared to the rest of society, etc.

Family: family life, traditions, routines, interests, what we find funny, activities we do together and separately, working together, etc.

Shortcomings: mostly mine, but also our family’s, wives’, husband’s, men’s, women’s, other peoples’/families’, and the like.

Common threads: any kind of similarities I’ve noticed between me or my lifestyle and something or someone else.

Everyday observations: things that everybody does that no one pays attention to.

Small items/single items: any specific thing, like cowboy boots, fences, or a cow for example.

Once I find a  few articles or notes I scribbled down something about that interests me, I look at the topic from as many angles as I can and start writing them down. Usually it triggers something that will get me writing again. An inspiration file is just one way I generate column ideas but the concept works in many other ways.

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