When I went to visit my brother and sister in-law in Omaha, Nebraska this summer, we made a souvenir stop at a quirky little shop called City Limits. It’s like an expanded spread of trinkets you’d find at Urban Outfitters, minus the clothing.
I picked up this little $2.00 magnet quoting the great Ernest Hemingway.
You’ve heard the phrase before, I’m sure: “Write Drunk; Edit Sober”. The man wasn’t lying.
But even that doesn’t work all the time.
Recently, I read a post on Medium by James Altucher that helped alleviate a problem that I didn’t even realize I was having.
“Writers know that the world is a joke and nobody knows anything.
When you write like you know something, like you’re an expert, then you are making a fool of yourself”
In just two sentences, he managed to relieve the pressure about being so enlightening when we put something out in the world.
So I thought I would elaborate on that idea — just a little bit, though, because I’m no expert.
Here are 4 ways to create ideas worth writing about (or not).
1. Do fun and interesting things worth talking about!
Ryan Holiday, former Marketing Director at American Apparel (at age 21), Editor at The New York Observer and founder of Brass Check Marketing (i.e. LISTEN TO HIM) says the following:
“…if you want to be a writer, put “writing” on hold for a while. When you find something that is new and different and you can’t wait to share with the world, you’ll beat your fat hands against the keyboard until you get it out in one form or another”
The success of most anyone who’s written a book or blog post that was worth reading is simply writing about something they’ve learned from an experience, adventure, or subject they’ve done some extensive primary research in.
Then, they’re nice enough to share it with the world.
In sum: Go do cool shit and then tell us about it!
2. Realize that everything you write doesn’t have to be published
Just because you’re not writing 24/7 doesn’t mean that you can’t get better at the craft itself.
Feel free to write ‘til your little heart is content. But don’t feel obligated to publish everything for the world to see. Julia Cameron talks about this little trick called Morning Pages. You should check it out.
Write for yourself simply for the joy (and practice) of putting ideas on a page.
I would suggest crafting a system to get feedback on what you’re working on though. Share them with your friends via e-mail. Join a Writer’s Group. Anything that will get feedback from others.
You’ve got to put things out into the world to see how they’re taking in order to improve.
3. Read and Respond
Before I write anything, I always read first. Usually at least 30 uninterrupted minutes. It’s a sequence of events that tends to stimulate the mind and get your ideas churning.
Think of it like having a conversation with a friend or leaving a comment on an article. When you find something you’ve got a strong opinion on, maybe that’s something worth writing about.
Medium has this really great feature called “Responses” that allow you respond to something someone else has already written. There’s no crime in elaborating on someone else’s point. It’s encouraging.
Authors love it, too! It means you’ve actually read their work and it made you feel something.
Maybe write a response to this post when you’re done reading. =P
4. Keep a running tab of topics or ideas that you might want to write about
You never know when a light bulb of inspiration will go off.
Funny thing is, it’s usually not as soon as you sit down in front of the keyboard.
It’s at mile 2 of your weekly 5K; It’s 20 minutes between you and home on the daily commute.
In fact, it’s usually the perfect blend of when you’re not thinking about it andwhen it’s most inconvenient for you to write anything down.
Fortunately for you, technology has given us plenty of options for capturing the essence of your idea at a moments notice. Evernote is my app of choice. And if you’re old fashioned, you can grab one of those little moleskin notebooks from pretty much anywhere.
So be sure to have one handy so you’ll keep track of all the little budding idea babies for when you’re ready to deliver them.
And when you look back on your list a week later and you still feel that you don’t have anything worth saying, remember James’ advice. (See above)
Shame on me, I guess. I’ll get around to it.
The wifey just said that I had to have the little magnet so now it sits above my desk right next to my reminder to turn off my wireless mouse.
That could be your quote one day if you stop taking yourself so seriously.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, let me know in the comments below. Or share it with someone who else you think might get something out of it!
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