Strategy, research and refinement are important aspects of creating original content. Yet something more is required. Smart Thinking author Art Markman says that how we describe a problem is the start line for our memory to find related concepts. If you start with a traditional way of thinking you are likely to stay stuck with stale, traditional ideas. That’s why at the beginning of a content project the writer’s mind needs to wander.
Writers often re-frame the problem and explore existing knowledge in new ways. They hold off on quick judgments. The writer seeks full access to the people, places and things that make a company or publication succeed.
John Bredar, author of The President’s Photographer, says U.S. Presidents who allowed their chief photographer unrestricted access (e.g. John Kennedy) left a more thorough and engaging record of their presidency than those who limited their photographers’ access (e.g. Richard Nixon). Bredar’s book is full of presidential images that are both ceremonial and personal. His narrative includes details that only an on-site, knowledgeable writer could reveal.
Broaden the vision
Writers often think of the big picture first. When the mind is open it welcomes the unexpected. Fresh content ideas emerge. Research on academically gifted children shows that they are more likely to think about the big picture first and work their understanding down to the finer details. Starting this way can connect seemingly unrelated thoughts. The result is original ideas that intrigue and engage.
Stir up ideas
Here are some ways writers jumpstart the creative process when they are writing an article, blog post, website copy or ads. The example below uses lemons as a subject for content.
Personification. Choose an inanimate object such as lemons and give it a personal trait. “If lemons could talk they would ask for …what?” Fill in the blank.
Context. Lemons are generally thought of as being sour, but when served as part of a dessert their sweet side comes out.
Opposites. What is the opposite of the initial thought when thinking of lemons? Tart vs. sweet, tropical vs. polar. Writers play with ideas.
When performing creative tasks people tend to narrow their vision if they are being evaluated or judged by some external force. Consequences actually threaten new ideas. One’s focus turns to the consequence rather than the creative act. To explore original ideas, writers put curiosity in the driver’s seat.
Research shows that creative ideas cannot be forced. They pop up at unexpected times. Showerhead supplier, Hansgrohe, conducted research that revealed a whopping 72 percent of people studied said they came up with new ideas while in the shower.
Like the U.S. presidents who decided to trust their photographers, companies and publishers need to trust their content writers. Each company or publication is one of a kind. Their content should be too.