Searching for inspiration for your writing? Try brainstorming titles and taglines to see what everyday objects and topics might serve as your writing muse.

All summer long, a few of CTQ’s bloggers have been writing metablogs about a unique aspect of their style or process. I was asked to participate as well, and so I offer you a reflection on the first step of my writing process—finding inspiration in the everyday.

When I was younger, I always had ideas for stories. With an overactive imagination and a bent towards bossiness, I would construct imaginary worlds for my friends and dictate complicated plots for us to act out on the playground.

Now, writing an educational blog is a little different than telling tales of unicorns and princesses in peril. But it is also kind of the same.

I am reminded, in fact, of Chris Van Allsburg’s great book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a collection of images with titles and taglines that I often turned to as a young writer in my elementary school years. Sometimes all you need is a compelling image or set of words to get the juices flowing.

This summer I decided to be more mindful about my ideas and kept a list of potential blog posts. Using my phone, which I always have with me, I wrote myself quick emails, took pictures, or sent texts to myself as a record of my search.

The list below represents five of my favorites inspirations, gathered as I drove through multiple states and countries, flew across the Atlantic, engaged in discourse with friends, colleagues and family and generally let my mind wander away from my classroom to the larger ideas of life.

Participating in this meta-process this summer and letting my mind wander towards ideas rather than feeling pressure to flesh out full-length pieces in the face of deadlines was freeing. I was able to reflect on small aspects of being a teacher and look for overlap between the personal and the professional. And now I have a long list of place to start when the slog of October threatens to steal my creativity.

As I hope I will actually turn one or two into full-length posts, I will just give you my title and tagline for each:


  • Seven Billion Dollar Jackpots: 

    • Have you ever wondered what you would do if you won the lottery? Would you keep teaching?
  • Kann ich         (fill in the blank)         Haben?:

    • Trying to ask for what you want in a language that is not your own can be a challenge. Thankfully, I had a group of compassionate high school students with me who offered their pointers on how to get by in a foreign land.
  • Building The Golden Gate Bridge:

    • Looking at the beauty and strength of a national monument is cause for celebration of humanity’s ingenuity. It is also a chance to think about what our reluctant learners might do if tasked with solving real world problems.
  • Who Is Getting Lost in Our Current Educational Policy?:

    • Speaking with state representatives about current educational policy helps me to understand why they prioritize the reforms they do. It also inspires me to advocate for those who are lost in the process.
  • From the Mouths of Seventh Graders—Wisdom for the Start of the Year:

    • Spending time with my young cousins helps me to get excited about the new learners I will meet. Their advice for what I should do once I meet them is priceless.

I hope you enjoy my list and that it inspires lists of your own! Please share ideas in the comments below so we can engage in this aspect of the writing process together!

This post appears as part of a metablogging series from CTQ bloggers featuring their tried-and-true tops and best practices. Join the Collaboratory and then sign up for the Communications Lab to continue the conversation and get tips for your writing process!

Image taken from (fr:Utilisateur:Greudin)


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