Brainstorm system for creating stories when “nothing is going on”


I recently read a blog post that truly resonated with me, “The 4-Step System For Writing A Great Blog Post, Even If You Have Writers Block.” The basis of this post is to look inside of yourself and be curious about ideas that are personal or inspiring to write about. Basically write what you know.

On a recent @JEAOneBook Twitter chat, the discussion centered around curiosity. When student’s lack curiosity, as advisers we often hear “There’s nothing going on. I don’t have any story ideas.”

Ever heard that before in a staff meeting? I sure have, and trust me it’s hard to understand. However, “story block” is real, so when it happens, I believe it’s a true learning opportunity to teach our students to have the capacity to create ideas on their own.

The following list of ideas to brainstorm is included in the article, and I believe is an approach our students could use to create story ideas for their publications.

  • It’s a topic you are extremely passionate about.
  • It’s a topic you came up with on your own.
  • It’s a topic you talk about a lot when around people.
  • It’s a topic you are truly an expert at from years of expertise.
  • It’s a topic that is personal, or that you have learned from experience.

Everybody has a story, so stories are everywhere. However, we must have the curiosity and motivation to find them.

What systems do your students use to brainstorm story ideas? Share in the comments section and let us know!

Don Goble

Don Goble is an award-winning Broadcast, Technology, Multimedia and Film Instructor at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis. Journalism Education Association's National Broadcast Adviser of the Year in 2015, Don is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, PBS Lead Digital Innovator and author who advocates for media and digital literacy for all learners. Don masterfully engages students to author and craft media messages to build their voice and share their story.

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One thought on “Brainstorm system for creating stories when “nothing is going on”

  • October 7, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Boy was the timing perfect for this post! Our staff had our pitch meeting yesterday, and guess what I heard? “There’s nothing going on I don’t know what to do.” Add in a cowardly look on their faces and we were off. I said, “you know I just wrote a blog post about this. Everyone open up and let’s read it together.”

    When we got to “It’s a topic you talk about a lot when around people” we began talking about our new schedule. My student’s started screaming about how much they don’t like it. Boom! There it was.

    After a 30 minute conversation, and much discussing fair and balanced reporting, we devised a game plan to have an in-depth “Ladue View” show in December discussing the topic of the schedule. We identified four major areas of frustration and will do a short package on each, culminating in a deep look into the schedule. One show, one topic, much like Dateline NBC. True investigative reporting.

    We turned our pitch meeting from defeat and embarrassment for no ideas, into a room that was buzzing with excitement! All over one statement “It’s a topic you talk about a lot when around people.”

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