How To Turn an Idea Into an Article

A step-by-step process you can follow to transform your ideas into articles


Deborah Oyegue

2 years ago | 8 min read

Many people come up with ideas and thoughts they want to share but never get around to do so. They tell themselves that it’s not worth it or they don’t have the time.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a template you could simply use, allowing you to take your initial thought and turn it into a fully fleshed-out article with relative ease?

Being a writer is fun. But it can be pretty challenging, too. So in this post, I will share with you a step-by-step process for turning your ideas into articles that I use when writing my articles.

Cheat on Your Brain With a Second Memory

First, train yourself to identify ideas.

A recent Cognitive Neuroscience study by psychologist Dr. Jordan Poppenk and his master’s student, Julie Tseng, showed that the average person has about 6200 thoughts every day. Surely, 0.1% of that number has the potential to become insightful posts or stories.

The only way to get through the day, with your best thoughts or ideas, is to write them down immediately.

Your brain would try to convince you it got you, and if you fall for its promises, you will wind up in bed, late at night, grasping at the shadows of what could have been a great execution, then your brain won’t take the blame. Instead, it will rationalize that that idea wasn’t worth anything. But it might have been — if you wrote it down.

Write the First Sentence and Dive Into the Body

Many times, the weight of your first sentence can make or mire your resolve to complete the draft. The best thing you can do is get over it quickly.

So write it out as fast as you can, rest assured that it will not make the final draft. This takes away the initial reserve when approaching a blank page.

While crafting the perfect introduction first is counterintuitive, writing an intention paragraph can guide you through completion. An intention paragraph explains what you intend to write about.

The reason is you won’t know your exact understanding of the topic without writing it out. The brain is a sponge. It does its job in absorbing information but needs extra nudging to pull it out.

Studies show that the brain uses up 20% of our energy and runs our system efficiently by expending as little energy as possible. It stores temporal information temporarily, in the transient form, which can be reactivated when the need arises.

When you write, your brain makes relevant linkage by supplying relevant information, previously consumed, to what you are working on.

It is why applications like The Most Dangerous Writing app are so valuable. They get you past your initial reservation of not knowing anything to write about, to prod your brain into releasing data on the topic you are writing about.

Writing brings clarity, you don’t know something until you can write about it.

Create an “Intention” document and siphon unscathed points

Before I start writing, I create a document and explain what I want to write about. I call this my intention document.

Here, I actively brainstorm concepts related to the topic at hand and write out everything I know about it.

It gets the words flowing out, and when I get comfortable on the document, I make the switch to the topic in question by creating bullet points. The bullet points become headings or subtopics, then I expand on them. This is like brain dumping.

This process would give you an outline to work with. With an outline, writing becomes more structured and less daunting.

Under each point you have highlighted, write a paragraph or two or more explaining how you concluded. Each subsequent sentence should expand on the previous by drawing inferences or quoting reputable sources. But, given it is the first draft and your goal is to transfer all your thoughts on the subject into that document (in whatever order), you can freestyle. Also, create placeholders as the need arises for verifying your statements or ideas.

For example: “The brain, when stretched out, is the size of a table napkin [where did I learn this].”

The placeholders would make research easier because you already know what to look out for.

Complete the First Sh**ty Draft

A sh**ty draft is less frightening than a blank page.

So your goal should be to complete the first draft, no matter how grotesque your document looks.

Writing is rewriting. Just focus on transferring information from your head into written words to be sorted out later.

Stay mindful of your environment, and you will unlock the gate to an infinite part of your mind, or what I call the biological memory bank of existence; your subconscious mind. But just like the name implies, you can only harness it when you reach a flow state, a place where the thoughts run unbridled into the pages of the computer, faster than your mind gauges. The more times you reach this state, the more effortless writing becomes for you.

The only way to reach this state is by actively writing. Even if the words make little sense as you write them, keep at it until you hold no reserve.

Also, the brain, if not challenged, could carry out tasks in a passive state. It’s why we aren’t consumed by the mere volume of information surrounding us. If you repeat a task often, your brain sees it’s important. If you don’t, your brain unburdens you by pushing out the information.

Write the Introduction and Conclusion

When you are done expanding your points to form the body of your work and you have a comprehensive understanding of its scope, write out an introduction to the topic.

Check that it gives a catchy background of your piece and shows your readers what to expect. More importantly, ensure is not an eyeball-shrinking impenetrable wall of text.

You can start with a backstory to draw the readers in:

“A year or so ago, one of my dear friends — now manager — Goddess invited me out. It was Fashion Week in the city so nice they had to name it twice.”
- Genius Turner in Why Rich People Would Rather Give Than Receive”

You could start with a quote that relates to the topic:

“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
— Navy SEALs motto
I was inspired to write this after Shannon Ashley revealed that it takes more than three hours for her to write one of her pieces.
-Alvin Ang in It Takes Me More Than Three Days To Write One Story

You could start with a catchphrase:

“The secret to your writing success lies in the data.”
-Tim Denning in You Need Real-Time Data to Significantly Increase the Attraction of Your Content

You could even start with dialogue:

“All the world’s a stage,” wrote Shakespeare, and at present — this earthly platform is occupied by a whopping 7,800,000,000 actors! And so, it stands to reason:
The only way to stand-out from the crowd is to stand-in isolation.
- Genius Turner in Why Appearing ‘Weird’ Makes You More Attractive

Your introduction should hook the readers, convince them they are in the right place by showing you understand the topic, then telling them what to expect from the body of work.

Just as coordinators advise in writing essays and dissertations, the introduction should come last.

Rewrite Your First Draft

Pick out the unanswered questions or unclear statements and edit for clarity.

Readers want to leave your articles knowing they gained knowledge, so make it worth their while by rewriting your first draft with verified insight.

Research and use the information to strengthen your arguments. Find out what influential people in your niche have said about the areas you covered in your niche, or tie your points with inference from their lives.

Also, add links to authority sources to build trust with your readers — if you aren’t writing from a personal perspective.

The more clarity you have on a topic, the better you get at identifying loopholes or content gaps in your writing. A complete body of work should have a subject or central plot, and the reader should have no underlying questions after reading the work.

So, it should answer: what the topic is about, who the topic matters to, how the topic helps the target audience, and why they should take the advice or accept the information.

Edit for Flow, Grammar Consistency, and Errors

When you have a whole document, complete with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion, read for flow.

Does the flow seem slow, or rushed?

Does each sentence pull its weight in a paragraph?

Does the body follow the introduction or lead up to the conclusion?

Dismantle the walls of Jericho — I mean text, to make it easier for your readers to read through, and ensure your points are as clear as possible. Then, proofread to catch grammatical errors or stray typographical errors.

Here’s an article to strengthen your editing skills.

Ideas are malleable, you must build the habit of writing them down to explore later.

Ideas don’t come out fully formed, as Mark Zuckerberg would agree. And Tim Denning, who could win an award for his writing prolificness, has written on how writing is thinking on paper.

Writer’s block happens when you put off writing, waiting for all the pieces to fit into themselves nicely, before grabbing a seat to write it all out. Writing brings clarity, the more you explore the recesses of your mind, the more information you will stumble upon. Your subconscious mind works its best when not inhibited by your rational thoughts.

So, as much as thinking about a topic can feel productive, writing about it is the only way to harness passing thoughts or ideas into a coherent or comprehensive whole.

Prolific writers put out a lot of content because they have trained themselves to recognize ideas. But when you rationalize the viability of your ideas by merely thinking about it, then the process becomes overwhelming and time-consuming.

People make the mistake of waiting till the perfect idea hits, but you need to train your mind to recognize them.

Sometimes they come as passing thoughts, and if you aren’t aware of them, you won’t even notice when you miss out on them. Little wonder Orson Scott said, “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”

Imagine where JK Rowling would be if she hadn’t grappled with her Harry Potter idea on the train and offloaded it when she got home.

Imagine how many of Steven King’s books would be imaginary if he never jotted his ideas to be used in later years.

While we can train our minds to identify ideas, writing them down is the only way to immortalize them. And the good news is, the more you practice, the better you get.


Created by

Deborah Oyegue







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