Are you Creative [Enough]?

Would you like to be more creative?

I’m only asking because it’s really not as hard or mysterious as you might think.

One thing that prevents many people from boosting their creativity is the notion that creativity is somehow determined by intelligence. Another is the idea that creative people are born that way.

In truth, research shows that once you get slightly above an average I.Q., intelligence and creativity are not related. So you could be a genius and display little creativity or have fairly average intelligence and wield amazing creative powers. Continue reading “Are you Creative [Enough]?”

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Are You a Hoarder (of Ideas)?

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. Continue reading “Are You a Hoarder (of Ideas)?”

Are You a Blogger or Just Blogging?

Here’s a harsh truth for you: blogging is a bit like sports. Anyone can do it, but few can do it at a professional level.

And while hardly anybody with an ounce of sanity who takes up tennis or golf thinks they’ll eventually turn pro at it, just about everyone who starts a blog, or is secretly writing a novel, all of them are dreaming of hitting it big somehow.

This is a brave new world: anyone can do it, just push a button and you’re out there. Suddenly everybody is blogging, and they all wish this was what they’d be doing as a job.

But there’s a big difference between blogging and being a blogger.

Continue reading “Are You a Blogger or Just Blogging?”

Want More Comments on Your Posts? Do This!

We all tend to focus on catchy headlines and gripping titles. That split-second interest grabber is important.

But how you end your post depends on what you’re trying to achieve and what do you want the reader to do – the so-called call to action. When it comes to prompting reader interaction, how you wrap up your blog posts or articles may make all the difference between a few comments and an explosion of discussion.

Think about it: What urges a reader to write his comments? What gets him to talk about your post? What happens when the show’s over? Continue reading “Want More Comments on Your Posts? Do This!”

Content is King. Or is it?

Is content king?

To me, that seems like a silly question. “Content is king” is a metaphor, but apparently not a very good one.

A good metaphor creates instant understanding. Given the amount of confusion and debate, the phrase “content is king” is not doing all that great a job in the instant-understanding department.

I think it’s smarter to say that content is indispensable. It’s what people go online to find, and it’s what Google loves. There are only a few online marketing models that don’t require valuable content, and those few are getting tougher by the day, and result in no long-term assets. Continue reading “Content is King. Or is it?”

The Seven Magic Tricks of Blogging

Magicians are skilled manipulators of perception. They can make people think something is moving when it isn’t or see things that aren’t there. Diverting attention this way and that, they can hide cards and rabbits or make objects appear from thin air.

Blogging is a little bit like that, depending on who writes it. Diverting attention with a little smoke and mirrors often draws readers inwards towards a certain conclusion or believing in what the author wants them to.

Now, don’t get me wrong – blogging isn’t evil. Not at all. But brilliant blogging is a bit like magic. Maybe a bit more than we’d like to admit.

Which means it’s tricky. Here are seven magic tricks of blogging. Continue reading “The Seven Magic Tricks of Blogging”

Blogger’s Block? Here’s How to Beat it

Too many of your posts start with an apology for not having been around of late? The joy you first brought to blogging now a distant memory?

Looks like a case of blogger’s block. Don’t worry… there is a cure.

It’s largely a matter of making friends with your creative mind. The reason so many of us find this difficult is that our education has trained us to respond to problems only with linear, rational, conscious thought.

Willpower, discipline, and good old-fashioned work may squeeze another blog post out of you but to produce words effortlessly, to connect with the joy and optimism and inspiration which makes it all worthwhile, to be as good as you can be, you need to know how to nurture abstraction and your hard-working subconscious.

First off, stop focusing on your block and start thinking about establishing flow. Flow is that delectable condition where all we writers have to do is turn up at the page and get ‘em down. Below are nine tried-and-tested methods – four daily practices, five writing practices – for keeping in flow, not just for the next blog post but for the rest of your writing life. Continue reading “Blogger’s Block? Here’s How to Beat it”

Your Right to Be Wrong

For a long time I used to think being “right” was a big deal. I had to say the right thing at the right time, know the right people, read the right books, live in the right neighborhood…

I did all this not because I wanted to, but because I thought it was a prerequisite for success.

If you want other people to respect you, then you have to look and sound a certain way, right? Makes sense, if conformity is all you’ve ever been taught.

What no one tells you is the price you must pay for this. Yes, conformity gains you a certain type of approval from others, but it comes at the cost of losing your sense of self.

You have to systematically search out everything that’s a little bit “off” about you and bury it as deep as you can. You know that you can’t get rid of it — it’s a part of you, after all — but maybe you can hide it so deep that no one will ever see it, so that a world that only respects the “right” will never realize how “wrong” you really are.

Maybe, just maybe, you can fool everyone until you’re in a position of power and no one’s opinion matters anymore. Then you can be free. Right?

Umm… no. Continue reading “Your Right to Be Wrong”

50 Ways to Become a Better Blogger

Do you want to become a better blogger? Silly question, eh.

In that case, I’ve got some great news. The best way to become a better blogger is to blog. And to keep blogging.

If this blogging thing is difficult and frustrating, then you must force yourself to do it, and do it, and do it, until you get better at it.

As bloggers we have to produce words daily – even when we don’t feel like it. Even replying to comments or e-mails is a good way to enhance one’s creativity.

Then there are a number of thing we can do to become better at this blogging thing. Quite a few of them… Continue reading “50 Ways to Become a Better Blogger”

What’s Your Purpose?

When you sit down to write a blog post, what’s your purpose?

Are you just trying to fill space so your blog doesn’t go more than 24 hours without being updated?

Are you interested in promoting a product, or convincing your reader to buy something?

Are you trying to express yourself through your blog, and make a meaningful statement?

Are you trying to educate your readers on a topic?

Are you trying to provoke discussion?

When you write a blog post, you need to know why you’re writing. Every one of the reasons for writing above (with the possible exception of the first one) is legitimate.

Why is it important to have a purpose for your blog writing? There are at least three reasons: Continue reading “What’s Your Purpose?”