What topics will be hot for writers in 2012?
Published: December 20, 2011
Champagne corks will soon pop, ushering in a brand new year, and writers should already be planning content. I looked at the Web Savvy article published in January 2011, on spotting trends. The topics I wrote about dominated news cycles for much of the year. Will I be as accurate this go-around? Only time will tell.
Kay B. Day
• Start with the obvious. Stories about what will happen when the current Mayan "long-count" calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012, began to appear in 2009. There’s no shortage of existing Internet stories about catastrophes that might happen during 2012. That doesn’t mean there aren’t abundant opportunities to write one. A story I wrote about remarks by string-theory physicist Dr. Michio Kaku remains one of the most widely read and cited pieces in my portfolio.
It might be hard to interview Dr. Kaku because he’s a celebrity, but every institution of higher learning has experts on astronomy, physics and physical science. Dr. Kaku’s website is frequently updated with all sorts of interesting content about matters like solar storms and what killed all the dinosaurs. Use your imagination, and if you come up with a new twist to the 2012 hysteria, you could hit on a winning composition.
NASA's website also provides information about projected solar cycles and some of the more dramatic stories about predictions gone wild. The great thing about the NASA website is the image gallery—you can get a million dollars worth of images for nothing more than proper credit. Make sure the image is available for your use by checking the fine print.
• The other "obvious" 2012 topic is the general election. Record amounts of money will be spent, and content on politics will be as abundant as mosquitoes on a steamy Florida evening. You don’t have to write about politics to benefit, however. Consider interviewing a campaign volunteer or a precinct monitor. You could also do a fun photo essay on campaign signs. At the library location where I go to vote early, dozens of signs pop up weeks before voting opens and the grounds look like a nonorganic garden. Snapshots of candidates are always worth something and if you attend a campaign event that permits you to take your camera in, opt for still shots or video.
• Energy will also be a topic of interest, not just to industry insiders, but also to consumers because costs will continue to rise. Content about ways to save money or new developments in home-energy systems are sure to please lifestyle or home-improvement editors. Trade associations in the HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) industry are good resources for interviews and quotes.
• With today's tight budgets in mind, gardening should get a lot of attention. If you don’t have a green thumb, interview someone who does, or, alternatively, do something humorous on how you managed to kill your garden with love.
• Are you interested in entertainment? Keep your eye out for new films or TV series. The late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy with the fascinating character of Lisbeth Salander can be counted as a trendsetter—as of November 2011, The Local (Sweden) said the book had sold 62 million copies worldwide. Salander, sort of a cross between Ayn Rand and Virginia Woolf with tattoos and piercings, is a riveting character who will be around for a long time.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo provides numerous opportunities for freelance inspiration—safety tips on piercings and tattoos, techniques for researching subjects, or the food and customs of Sweden are but a few of the many mental journeys Larsson inspires. By now you have deduced I was extremely, most definitely, enthralled by the book.
• What would entertainment be without technology? As always, this sector will be a key influencer on everything. From smart phones to e-readers, writers can never go wrong penning the account of a personal journey with a specific technology. Whether you’re raving about a new app or moaning about a seemingly incurable virus, first-person accounts are always in demand.
• Computer viruses aside, human viruses will also be of interest. We live in an obsessively globalized world, and viruses like dengue fever, tuberculosis and various types of flu will always catch an editor’s eye.
Regardless of your interest, your chances for publication and readership improve if you come up with a truly creative angle, and if you ramp up any writer’s best asset—curiosity. Navel-gazing can be useful at times and often a great idea strikes when you’re not trying to think of a great idea.
As always, in 2012, persevere. Writing is not and never has been for the faint of heart.
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International, The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To learn more about Kay Day, see kayday.com. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.||