The Idea Architect
On What To Blog About
We often submerge ourselves in the mediocrity of our everyday life. By walking past the same buildings, having the same conversations, and driving on the same roads, we subconsciously convince ourselves that there is nothing new and nothing worthy of our attention.
This could not be further from the truth.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice,” said Heraclitus, one of the earliest philosophers, “for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.” Though it has been thousands of years since he uttered these words, nothing has changed; it remains true to this day that everything changes.
While a world in constant motion may be intimidating, it is also ripe with opportunity. Opportunity to move the world forward by continually discovering, constructing, and demolishing the status quo.
How do you know what to blog about? What are good writing topics? How do you come up with an idea?
Wake up! Pay attention to what’s going on around you. The world is chock-full of ideas that are begging to be discovered. You only need to know how to look.
After identifying the audience you want to appeal to, aim to uncover what they need. It’s a classic example of supply and demand. Your writing is the supply. Identify the demand.
Discover their problems and questions. What are they searching for? Answer the questions that have yet to be answered. The more you study your audience, the better you’ll become, until you’re able to answer their questions before they even ask them. That’s what it means to be a thought leader.
To help in your discovery, there are a variety of tools available to you.
1. The Internet
Sites such as Quora, Yahoo answers, and answers.com are good places to find what questions are being asked. Also, you’ll be able to see the nature and legitimacy of the answers. If the askers are not satisfied, the questions will probably be asked again. Social media is another tool for finding and testing ideas. Your potential readers are constantly talking about what interests them and what problems they have.
Read our favorite ways to find excellent content to guide you in your discovery.
2. Your friends
Friends and coworkers are untapped wells of ideas. Well, some of them are. Be aware of the people who are good sources of information. Start conversations with them about potential topics and soak in their opinions. Although the Internet provides an unmatched breadth of information, in-person need finding will shed light on the subtle elements of your target audience’s psychology.
Inspiration is experienced by some more often than others. Whenever it does hit you, capture it. Always be open to new ideas and ready to jot them down. Thinking that you’ll remember a good idea in a few hours is a grave mistake. Who knows how many unwritten books and undiscovered inventions have drowned in the pool of lost memories. Write down every idea you have, no matter how terrible it might seem in the moment.
You’ve probably heard people say that “originality is dead,” or “nothing is new.” True or not, originality is definitely scarce. In light of this, don’t obsess over creating something completely out of the ordinary. After all, even the greatest authors inspired themselves from those who came before. Humanity would have never gotten anywhere if we were constantly reinventing the wheel.
Instead, think of yourself as an architect working on an already built foundation. The groundworks are laid, you need to build upon them. Discover the foundation you want to work with, then focus on molding it.
Spend less time worrying about how good an idea might be and more time building it up. First drafts are rarely perfect. The car you drive didn’t appear as a perfect idea in the mind of its creator. No, it was developed over time. Many seeds were planted. Some sprouted and some didn’t. The same principle can be applied to writing.
While trying to form ideas, your stream of consciousness should be flowing freely:
I need ideas for my movie blog. What movies are out now? Are people going to see them? How many people are going to see movies now in comparison to last year? In comparison to ten years ago? There must be a reason for this. What are the quantities and qualities of movies that are being released? I’m sure this has an effect on the number of people who go see movies. How do you evaluate a movie anyways…and so on.
The same process applies to this post of mine you’re reading, whether it turns out to be good or bad:
What should I write about? If I’m struggling with this, maybe others are as well. What would help me? Would it also help them? How do people come up with ideas? Inspiration. Epiphany. Where does it come from? If you’re not lucky enough to have it, what then? Where do you look?
Initially, I provided myself with a foundation. There’s certainly nothing new about movies, but something old can give birth to something new. A simple query like “Are people going to see movies” can grow as you drag it along.
I then moved on to asking questions and making assumptions. In doing so, I found a variety of topics which I could write about. The same method can be applied to any topic. The rule of thumb here is to eliminate all restrictions you may place on yourself. It’s likely that your thoughts may be unstructured and even childlike. This is how it should be.
Creativity thrives in the absence of structure and limitation. Oftentimes, we focus on a specific thing for so long that we trap ourselves into that way of thinking. We forget what it was like to be free of judgement, open-minded, and willing to push the boundaries of knowledge.
To remove these blinders, try emptying your mind. Break your thoughts down and question the different components. Identify your deepest habits and bases for thought, and feel what your mind would think if these were something else. Capture the arising thoughts and expand on your arguments.
Breaking down the foundations is essential to the construction of a compelling, original idea.
Tying it all together
In applying these methods and any others you find for yourself, your search will be a fruitful one. Don’t be scared to toss an idea away, as spending too much time on something that frustrates you will make your search far more difficult. Bounce your ideas off of others, be a healthy skeptic, and upon discovering a worthy idea, go at it with your all.
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