Posted by: nancyisanders | August 20, 2013

Highlights: Narrowing the Topic


Yesterday was a gorgeous day, so my husband Jeff and I headed to the beaches, just one hour away from where we live in southern CA.

To our delighted surprise, we had the entire beach to ourselves! That’s because we didn’t go to one of the highly popular beaches. Instead, we went to one of our favorites, a part of the beach called Crystal Cove, which is kept pretty much in its natural state.

So we had fun looking at sea anemones in the tide pools, taking in the gorgeous view. And watching the sailboats. Here’s a photo I took of one that went past some of the rocks near us.


And then, instead of pulling out a book to read while we listened to the splash of the waves and soaked up the sun, I pulled out my printed sheet of Highlights’ Current Needs. I brought them along so that when I was nice and relaxed, I could read over them and start to narrow the topic I wanted to write about.


As a children’s writer, I try to get away from the computer as much as I can during different phases of writing. (I know there will be countless hours up ahead when I’ll be glued to my computer chair, doing online research or typing out my article.) So I wanted to really study their list of Current Needs at a time when I was totally relaxed and could really try to think of a potential topic I wanted to write about for this journey. That’s why I brought this list to the beach with me, along with a notepad and pen.

Look over their list of current needs and narrow the topic you’d like to write about.

I skipped right over their Fiction Categories. Sure, I might try to write for that at some point. But right now I want to experience breakthrough with this magazine, so I’m targeting their Nonfiction Categories. Plus, I also want to practice and hone up on my nonfiction skills as a writer.

Some of the topics in the Nonfiction Category sort of scared me and I didn’t even want to try to write for those. But in the end, I picked 4 potential topics that I thought, “Hey, I could try to write for this.”

So if you haven’t yet, take some time to relax. Get in a comfy chair at home or go outside to a favorite pretty place. Bring your print out of Highlight’s Current Needs along.

Choose 1-4 potential topics from their list that you think you might want to write about.

Then come back here for the next post and join me in the next step on our adventure!


  1. Nancy,

    An inspirational post…one that certainly has motivated me. Great photos!


    • Thanks, Donna. Hope you’re writing is going well!

  2. Hi Nancy!

    These pictures are wonderful! Where were you and how did you find a deserted beach around here in the summertime? That sailboat picture is amazing! It could be in an art gallery.

    Also, did you mean to make a post about narrowing the topic of what you write for Highlights? I don’t see any post here, just the pictures. I sure enjoyed them though! And I’m enjoying reading about your Highlights journey too!

    XOXO Val

    • Hi Val! We went to Crystal Cove…the entrance that takes you to a trail you have to hike down about a quarter of a mile to reach the beach. It takes you directly to the tidepools. It’s too rocky to swim and there’s a kelp bed just off shore, so the water’s messy with seaweed as well, so I guess everybody wanted to go to the swimming beach instead.

      And as for narrowing the topic for Highlights…I pressed the wrong button as I was preparing that post and it e-mailed the pictures out by mistake without the text. To find it you have to visit my actual blog instead of just reading it in the e-mail. Let me know if you find it okay!

  3. Thank you Nancy & Jeff, for taking us along to the beach. I missed it this summer…almost. Your pictorial excursion made up for it.

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