Are You a Hoarder (of Ideas)?4 min read

Imagine this, if you will.

An old woman, near the end of her life. Shivering in a fleabag apartment without heat in the winter. Walking four miles each way to the food bank, to carry home unmarked cans of mystery meat. Not even a cat to keep her company, because cat food is expensive.

Then one day she dies, and the neighbors find $2.7 million wadded up in her mattress.

It’s a natural human impulse to hold on to what we have. We figure we can handle whatever discomforts we might be facing now, and who knows how bad it could get down the line? So we hoard, saving up our riches for some mythical later time.

What does this have to do with writing?

Everyone who writes faces this at some point. We come up with a powerful idea, something we think will capture a lot of attention. This is the kind of content we know we need to grow our blog and our business.

So of course we can’t waste it on our measly 300 subscribers (or 100, or 12). We scribble our great idea on a Post-it so we remember to write it up when we hit some magic number of subscribers–500 or 1000 or 10,000.

The Post-it gets dusty. We never hit that magic number. Because we took our best content ideas and stuffed them into a mattress. We didn’t think our small audience was good enough for amazing content, so we never got a larger audience.

The muse is spiteful

Your muse is a fascinating creature, but she is not necessarily very nice. If she sends you a killer idea and you don’t do anything with it, she can get downright mean.

Your muse doesn’t care if you’re a flake about your mortgage or your job or the 10 pounds you’re trying to lose. But if you’re a flake about your writing, she’ll turn a cold, cold shoulder. She’s volatile and she has a damned bad temper. So frankly, you need to humor her a little.

When your muse sends you an amazing idea, you have to do something with it. If at all possible, sit down and write the idea up as soon as it comes to you. If that’s not an option, at least capture the idea and scribble down any details you find exciting. If you can do it, think of a couple of good subheads. Then schedule a time when you can flesh it out.

Ideas go stale quickly. Get to your keyboard and get that post written as soon as you can.

How to get the most value out of your best post ideas

Instead of saving your best ideas for later, get the most out of them today. Don’t just create one cornerstone post–squeeze some extra value out of it.

Create a series. Spend a few minutes mind-mapping, and come up with 5 or 7 spin-off ideas based on that original post. A series is a tremendous traffic builder, even more so when it starts with a strong concept.

Expand it as a free eBook and offer it as a bonus for subscribing to your blog or email list. Be sure to put the blog’s URL in the footer of the eBook, so when it gets passed along, new readers know where to find you.

Offer it as a guest post . . . this week. A lot of us get hung up on pitching guest posts to the biggest sites in the blogosphere. We get all worked up trying to figure out how to attract the attention of the big guys.

That’s all good and well, but when you’re just starting out, don’t overlook guest posting opportunities that are closer to your blog in size. As a rule of thumb, look for blogs with anything from the same number of subscribers you have to 2-3 times your numbers. To keep procrastination from doing you in, write the post first, then figure out who to pitch it to. You can always tweak it to suit your host blog’s readership. Keep offering it to bloggers in your topic until someone bites.

Hoarding ideas is the same as throwing them away

Sometimes you’ll have magnificent ideas that are too far off topic, or too personal to share with the big wide world. Or, even worse, they’re perfect for that next project you have planned, and you don’t want to waste them on the project you’re working on now.

Write them up anyway, even if they never get posted. You don’t have to post every great idea you have, and you probably shouldn’t. But you can’t hoard your best stuff, either.

Your reputation is being built based on what you’re doing now. Grandiose schemes for what you’ll create when you have a gorgeous new blog theme, a wise and loving mentor, enough time to work on your true life’s work are just that . . . schemes.

Your imagination is part of your greatest wealth, but imagination without action is a drug that will waste away the best part of your life. Don’t save the best for later. You might not get any later. Put your best, most glorious work out now, and your spiteful muse will turn into a trustworthy ally.

Jordan Peters

28 thoughts on “Are You a Hoarder (of Ideas)?4 min read

  1. We need all the trusty allies we can get! And I certainly don’t want to anger my muse! Thanks for the encouragement. I’m gonna go punch those damn keys!!

  2. I hear what you saying. It is very true. But… so many fears to conquer and issues to face. Sometimes it feels like I’m just never going to take that first step.

  3. Wow. Thousand’s of words are hiding in my laptop. I cannot count the number of writing windows I have missed. But the encouragement I get from other bloggers I’ve met recently, are helping to warm those ideas back up. Thanks so much sharing your wisdom.

  4. I love this idea.
    Indeed, we naturally want to keep our best ideas until later, when we have a bigger audience. But one thing I’m getting to learn is that the more you put up your best idea, the better the ideas that come to you.

  5. Excellent post. Numbers aren’t everything and if you love writing, it doesn’t matter who is reading. I written some of my most exciting post and never had one response. Months later, I’ll see a friend and they tell me how much that meant to them or impacted them

  6. I really love this. Especially about creating a series out of your posts. I heard about this on Youtube and I’ve been trying to apply that to most of my social media platforms. This is really a great post.

  7. Nice post. Well said. We keep delaying things for the right time and that time never comes. It’s also possible that the idea we are postponding to write it later come to another person mind and he write about it before you and the other person gets all the praise which you should have got. Never delay anything otherwise you have to regret later. Perfect time never comes. There is no right time to do something right.

  8. Very true. I find the same mind-set among research and writing of research papers! I really am unable understand if a good researcher does not seek out comment on her work how does she improve on it? Thank you for this. Jeemol Unni

  9. Well said. Wow, there are people who actually wait until they have a larger audience before writing that great post? It’s like someone delaying a work meeting because they’re waiting for a few more people – like, what about those of us who arrived on time/early to the meeting? What about our time? I appreciate every person who reads my content whether they subscribe to my blog or not, comment or not. I only hope they found some value in reading my posts. Thank you for this post. I found it valuable!!

  10. I could fill a mattress with scribbled post-it note ideas… I guess I should do more with them!

    I liked the line you wrote towards the end of your post: “Your imagination is part of your greatest wealth, but imagination without action is a drug that will waste away the best part of your life.”

    Thanks for the motivation.

  11. This is powerful. Some profound financial advice and wisdom. Though I find there’s a thin line between being prudent and being a hoarder. Striking a balance can be dicy. Sometimes I think, if I spend this money will I die? I want to live in the present but still have the future in view and save towards it…

Leave a Reply