“It’s hard to put into words.”
How many times have you heard that expression?
I came across Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, which I realize he wrote for a different purpose. It’s an excellent read for project managers especially, but I highly recommend it for content writers as well.
In any case, I thought that some of his ideas are perfectly suited to the world of marketing communications. So I embellished a little to illustrate ten ways to produce unrivaled content:
- Ask silly questions: First of all, they only sound silly to you. Secondly, people love to answer questions about themselves and what they do. They certainly don’t find it silly. In fact they might go on and on. But somewhere in there they’ll drop little nuggets of information, which are fodder for content-rich ideas.
- Listen carefully: When others speak, listen. Whether you’re at a party or at a meeting. If you pay attention you will hear things that make for a remarkable story. But you’ve got to listen.
- Begin anywhere: I don’t mean lose your focus. I mean don’t be paralyzed by ‘the fear of the beginning’. Start writing what’s on your mind. You can re-organize later. Just start.
- Keep moving: When you start writing, don’t get up until you’re done. You might lose your train of thought. Just keep moving.
- Drift if you must: Allow yourself to get carried away. There’s no formula to creativity. Sometimes you must let your thoughts travel beyond your experiences to distant places, people and practices.
- Don’t be cool: Say it plainly. Trying to be witty and cute might backfire on you. Others might not think you’re so cool. But if you say it plainly, no one can fault you for it.
- Forget technology: Sometimes technology distracts. Ideas are produced in your mind. And in order for your mind to be fruitful it needs some peace and quiet once in a while. By the way, using a pen and paper is still the best way to brainstorm (I don’t care what anyone else says).
- Get out more: I love what Bruce Mau says: “The bandwidth of the world is greater than your computer graphic-simulated environment.” Take a walk (take your notebook with you), sail a boat or ride a horse. Ideas will come. Guaranteed.
- Don’t clean your desk: “You might find something there in the morning that you didn’t see last night.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a piece of junk mail lying on my desk, that has provided the perfect idea for a blog article!
- Make up words: No I don’t mean ‘refudiate’ or ‘mis-underestimate’. Coin meaningful new phrases and expressions that other content writers will want to adopt and introduce into their own lexicon. Think of Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘social graph’.
Are there other techniques to produce unrivaled content? Of course there are. Again, be sure to read Bruce Mau’s ideas for more provocative inspiration. In the meantime, do you have any provocative suggestions of your own?