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The Art of Nurturing Your Writing Ideas

The Art of Nurturing Your Writing Ideas

 

    Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    In my previous post at Lifehack, I wrote about the different means of finding writing ideas. But what if you already have a lot of great ideas? How will you nurture these ideas so that they will blossom into a fantastic blog post or great content?

    The key here is you need to know how to organize disparate ideas to write useful and well-written pieces.

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    1. Store and classify your ideas:

    There are so many ways to gather ideas – books, blog posts, newsletters, suggestions from friends. With so many ideas swirling around, you need to find a way to file them and classify them based on categories and themes.

    I highly recommend tools such as Evernote where you can store all your ideas and put tags on them for reference and/or inspiration for writing.

    2. Draft an outline

    Some writers don’t recommend this method as it is too linear – which doesn’t reflect how the human brain works.

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    That said, as a journalist who needs to beat the daily deadlines, I have to write quick and to the point. Hence, I draft an outline as a guide. I usually start with a thesis statement – the lead – to sum up the most important point of my story. I will then write down sub-leads – statements that will support the thesis and gather evidence (data, research papers and interviews with analysts) to put some meat in the sub-leads.

    3. Use mind maps

    Our ideas don’t usually come in a sequential patterns. Sometimes as we get insights they may or may not be related to the topic at hand. To see connections of what seem to be diverse collections of ideas, try using a mind map.

    Get a paper and pencil and draw a box at the center of the page. This box will serve as a starting point. Write down any idea inside this box and then link the “center” to other ideas come to mind. You will gradually see a pattern emerging, allowing you to see the connections clearly.

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    4. Gather some index cards

    Or yellow sticky notes if you prefer. I recommend this method for longer writing projects like books which have several chapters and can be overwhelming to write. Just remember to have a clean floor so you can out lay out all your index cards and re-arrange them to fit your theme.

    Write down your ideas on your card. Keep them short – just one to two sentences per card. After that lay them down and analyze the connections -can you string then together to form a coherent whole? Are they arranged in sequence or do you need to rearrange them? This is a great way to put order to your to a longer writing piece.

    5. Put a call to action

    Unless you are writing in your journal, you are writing something to address a particular audience. So what do you want your readers to do after reading your article post or book? Do you want them to buy your product or book a consultation with you? Do you want them to click through a link or donate to your favorite charity?

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    Whatever it is, be sure to ask for it. You don’t even need to put the call to action at the end of your post. You can put it in your introduction or write your post to revolve around a specific call to action.

    And in the case of this blog post, this is my call to action: apply one tip that you got from this post in developing a writing idea. Afterwards, contribute comments below on how that tip helped you in writing a post or book.

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    Last Updated on June 19, 2019

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

    Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

    It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

    1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

    It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

    Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

    When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

    2. Trust the Muse

    Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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    When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

    “The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

    The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

    If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

    The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

    Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

    3. Remember to Be Authentic

    Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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    How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

    For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

    One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

    Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

    Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

    4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

    I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

    One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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    Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

    A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

    Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

    5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

    It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

    We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

    If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

    You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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    6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

    As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

    The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

    Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

    Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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