Bea Kylene Jumarang
Whatever niche you're in,
the experience is the same.
You feel blocked and completely flat, wondering how you'll come up with your next blog post. The deadline on your editorial calendar is looming, and yet your idea well has gone completely dry. Your head is already exhausted, yet you feel as if you're getting nowhere. And when you do attempt to get the words down, it's like trying to run a marathon while being dehydrated.
It's crazy and depressing, but it really doesn't have to be that way.
Being creative is not a vague concept, and it isn't something only a great artist can figure out. In fact, Steve Jobs says, "Creativity is just connecting things."
Yep, sorry to sound simple, but that's the secret. Being creative is just about being good at connecting things. Now that you know, you might be wondering how to carry out the connection process, so let me walk you through the journey.
1. Find your first dot.
In other words, what are you already good at? What do you know intimately, and what field are you in?
Are you like me, a fiction writer who also blogs about writing? Or are you good at something else, like sculpture or games? No matter what answer you come up with, note it down when it pops into your head.
In fact, you might already have the answer - what you blog is probably what you know best. Remember, your knowledge now is your first dot, and you just need to find another one.
2. Okay, now discover your next dot.
In the search for the second dot, think about what you've been up to lately. What have you been obsessing about, and what has happened in your life?
At this point, don't make the mistake of restricting yourself, thinking that you can't possibly connect your new ideas with your first dot.
Instead, take fifteen minutes to think about anything and everything. Try to remember books you've recently read, courses you just took or something you found out about.
Recall funny things you heard, or a striking thing you saw. Write all of that down without censoring your ideas. By the end of that process, you will have a multitude of new dots to pick from, all achieved just because you didn’t employ judgment yet.
And if you're tempted to start outlining or writing your post, don't do that just yet. You'll shoot yourself in the foot if you don't think things through, and your readers won't appreciate the lack of cohesiveness.
3. You have your prospects. Find out if you can connect them with Dot 1.
As I said, don't shoot yourself in the foot by making all sorts of random connections. Instead, take another fifteen minutes and figure out the possibilities.
Feel free to eliminate the dots that don't work, and spend time evaluating how the rest can connect with your first dot. Finally, be ruthless and pick the one dot that shows the most potential. To choose, just listen to your gut and think.
Which pairing gets you the most excited?
4. You know the star pair, now discover the golden overlap.
You have already selected your two dots, and the pairing you just made excites you. Congratulations, because that pairing is the start of a great blog post.
At this point, you should go back to freethinking mode, and consider the possibilities once more. Ask yourself how many ways the two dots can overlap. After you have a list of those ways, do what you did earlier and select the one that gets you all giddy.
Whatever you choose, it's probably what I call the golden overlap.
It's the intersection of two things that seem unrelated, but once joined, those two things produce what we call awesome.
5. Golden overlap discovered. Now what?
Well, you have your dots already connected at this point, so next part is straightforward. All you need to do is to outline, draft, and then edit your post. Do remember to be like Steve Jobs and don't settle for good enough.
Edit your work with care and don't forget to format it for maximum readability. The same way Apple does its best to deliver an easy user experience, you shouldn't make reading a difficulty for your audience.
It's your turn.
You might be surprised to discover how things relate to each other, if only you take the time to explore your options. All you need to do is keep your eyes wide open.
Bea Kylene Jumarang is a blogger and fiction writer. She's working on her upcoming blog along with an e-book, entitled Techified: Silicon Valley's Secret Guide to Writing. If you want first dibs at that free book, head on over to the blog's Facebook page so you can get in on the action. On the other hand, if you want to read her other posts on sites like ProBlogger and Men with Pens, click this link and check out her work.