The Idea Dig: Finding Inspiration for Your Greeting Card Writing, by Terri See

“Where do you get your ideas?” It’s the question most frequently asked of greeting card writers (second only to “what do you really do for a living?”.) Most people have never met someone who does this kind of writing so they find it quite mysterious. They know these “sayings” get on the cards somehow, but don’t associate them with the actions of real people. To their question, my usual reply is, “they come to me in dreams,” or “elves deliver them under my door at night on teeny slips of paper,” just to preserve folks’ fantasies. Everyone needs something to believe in, right? Okay—the truth. The writing can be work. It often takes effort. Sometimes we have to go on a full-scale excavation for new ideas. When you are in need of card writing inspiration, try mining some of the following resources. Maybe you’ll hit pay dirt!

Look at catalogs and magazines: Devour catalogs like Wireless, and Signals, and magazines like Details, Martha Stewart Living, Good Housekeeping, GQ, Ladies’ Home Journal, Esquire, Guideposts, Victoria, Reader’s Digest, Highlights for Children, Self, People, Seventeen…They’re full of great ads which are good indicators of styles and trends.

Listen in on conversations: A candid comment on an airplane, elevator, bus, or even in the laundromat or grocery checkout line might make a sendable greeting card.

Listen to radio advertising: Tune in to language and slang.

Watch TV: The hit shows are hits because people relate to them; pick out themes; listen for punchlines you can put a new spin on.

Loiter in bookstores: Read! Scan new release titles and read the bestsellers’ list with an eye out for prevailing themes and topics.

Surf the net: Check out all the greeting card web sites you can turn up. Read e-cards and look for new approaches you might want to try.

Browse gift and card shops: For general inspiration, visit the stores. Products change seasonally and might inspire holiday verse writing.

Relocate: A change of scenery can be enormously inspiring. Try a coffee shop or cafe, a park or museum. New surroundings, new ideas!

Note: An advertising slogan is a terrible thing to waste, but mind your wording. If you find an idea to rewrite, make it a true rewrite. The plagiarism police are lurking about, cleverly disguised as editors.

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