Over 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes reportedly proclaimed “Eureka! Eureka!” after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose, whereupon he understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged in the bath.
Eureka means, “I have found (it).”
The way I define it, a “eureka” moment is a moment when you become aware of something that’s quite obvious, yet for different reasons has eluded you for a long time. A piece of information that’s been at the edge of your mind’s peripheral vision.
Why should we write about such moments?
Because, contrary to popular belief, people don’t want to read blog posts about what they don’t know. There’s a lot of mental discomfort that comes with reading about topics you have no understanding of, which is why most people don’t want to read articles about those topics.
If they have to learn something new, they usually invest time, money, and mental energy to read a book or enroll in an online course.
At the same time, people don’t want to read about what they already know.
So, what do people love to read?
What they know they don’t know. About the elusive obvious fact, about the aspects that they were almost aware of.
How Do You Come Up With a Eureka Idea?
Providing your readers with a “eureka” moment is no easy task, and it requires that you stay with an idea longer than most people, but here are five tips that will help you:
1. Get Yourself in a Position to Experience Eureka Moments More Often
One of the reasons I advise people to take part in the conversation that goes on in their niche is because this allows them to get a sense of what kind of ideas the community is sharing.
If you engage with these ideas (with the purpose of adding to the conversation via a comment or article), you will become aware of aspects that were obvious, yet no one wrote about.
The easiest way to write about a eureka moment is to have one yourself:
- Be aware of the conversation that takes place in the community around the topics you blog about
- Take the time to read and engage with your readers
- Absorb information related to your niche, and then rewrite it by adding your own experiences (and observations)
2. Connect Seemingly Unrelated Dots
Sir Isaac Newton was born centuries before the advent of technology that made blogging possible, yet…what would it be like to connect the dots between his famous rules of motion and blogging?
That’s exactly what I did with this post right here.
When you connect seemingly unrelated dots, you’re far more likely to stumble upon a eureka moment. You manage to see connections, correlations, and strategies that others in your niche have never thought of before.
William Faulkner once said, “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!”
The important part is to read about topics and ideas that are outside your niche.
This article you’re reading was inspired by a historical event.
In order to connect seemingly unrelated dots, you must:
- Read about topics that aren’t related to each other (duh!)
- Look for a connection between two unrelated areas of expertise (a good question to ask yourself is, “how can I adapt this idea to my niche?”)
- Notice the way ideas influence one another. The same way Archimedes came up with his principle after becoming aware of the way his body interacted with a body of water, the same way you can become aware of the way certain ideas, notions, and principles influenced others before you.
- Always ask yourself, “How does this relate to my niche?”
3. Disagree With Everyone
Let’s be honest…
Most tips, advice, and strategies you find online — regardless of the niche — are not original. The community tends to agree on a certain topic, and then everyone else writes about it.
But what if they were all wrong?
What if you could come up with a set of valid reasons why their strategies don’t work?
It’s quite refreshing when you get to read about someone breaking the status quo.
Of course, you have to do more than just disagree for the sake of shocking your readers. You have to have a point, and you have to be able to justify it.
It’s well worth giving it a try, at least once in a while. Notice the most popular opinions and strategies in your niche, and then ask yourself if you could write down a few reasons why they are wrong.
4. Use Someone Else’s Eureka Moment to Find Your Own
In 2008, Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans shared such a eureka moment: You can make a living doing anything if you have just 1,000 true fans.
More than a decade later, Li Jin wrote 1,000 True Fans? Try 100.
In this article, the author states, “I believe that creators need to amass only 100 True Fans — not 1,000 — paying them $1,000 a year, not $100. Today, creators can effectively make more money off fewer fans.”
It’s a refreshingly different take on an already popular idea.
Ask yourself, “How can I use this idea to suit my own niche? How can I make it mine?”
In 2008, Malcolm Gladwell coined the term “10,000 hours of work.” More than a decade later, I wrote about the importance of “10,000 hours of procrastination.”
In 2009, during an interview, radio host Ira Glass shared the idea of the gap; there’s this difference in terms of quality between the content we consume and the content we produce.
Fascinated by this idea, I asked myself, “How can I make my own contribution?”
An article about the way we must connect emotionally both with the content we consume and with the content we produce.
To develop killer taste is not enough to consume a lot of art, but to stay with it a bit longer than most people. To stay with each piece of art and ponder about it, so you notice its details, its many intricacies and subtleties. […] Progress is inevitable. It’s the side-effect of hours and hours of working on your craft. Perfection, on the other hand, is the side-effect of all your senses being overwhelmed by both the art you consume and the one you produce.
However, you should remember that in order for your article to resonate with people, you have to provide them with valid reasons as to why your take on another popular idea is just as good or even better than the original.
If you stand on the shoulders of giants, it’s your responsibility to see more than they did and share these ideas with your readers.
If not, your article will fail, and your readers will feel just as cheated as they feel when they figure out they’ve been click-baited by an article.
5. Turn a Negative Inside-Out…and Upside Down
The best way to explain this principle is if I give you an example.
We all know procrastination is bad. The most prescribed cure is to do the work anyway. It’s bitter-tasting medicine, and it requires a lot of will-power.
What if there was another way?
What if we could use procrastination as a tool to be more productive?
Well, that’s how I came up with a simple idea: Procrastination can be used to figure out the ideas that are worth writing about.
Rather than forcing myself to do the work, even when I don’t feel like it, I start working on something else.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s what a eureka moment is. The obvious that’s been hiding just outside our awareness.
Turning procrastination on itself, and using it as a tool to discover the type of work you like to do, rather than forcing yourself to do work you hate, is a simple but effective strategy.
Look for other negative traits and habits and come up with a strategy that enables people to turn them into positives.
The content everyone loves, and shares, and remembers, is the content that provides them with a eureka moment.
It brings into focus what was, for a long time, sitting at the edge of their mind’s peripheral vision.
The most obvious fact that has eluded them for so long.
To paraphrase David Foster Wallace, if you can show your readers that “this is water,” if you can show them the obvious truth they’ve overlooked, you will be well on your way toward fame, glory, and world domination.