Fresh content requires new ideas. And new ideas need good starting points. Smart Thinking author Art Markman says that how we describe a creative 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, not fresh ideas. Be willing to re-frame the problem and explore your existing knowledge in a new way. Don’t be afraid to change your mind. Here are a few ways of doing this.
Personify things: If bulldozers could talk they would ask for …what? Fill in the blank.
Add context: Lemons are generally thought of as being tart and sour, but when served as part of a dessert their sweet side comes out.
Opposites attract: Think of the opposite to your initial thought – square vs. round, or train tracks vs. open seas. Play with the ideas.
Broaden The Vision, Don’t Judge
Research on academically gifted children shows 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 resulting in ideas that intrigue and engage your audience. When you clear your mind and welcome the unexpected, fresh content ideas will emerge.
However, when performing creative tasks people tend to narrow their vision if they are being evaluated or judged by some external force. To find fresh ideas, put curiosity in the driver’s seat. Any reward or judgment should be self-initiated. Consequences threaten new ideas. One’s focus turns to the consequence rather than the creative act.
Freedom of thought goes beyond one’s cognitive ability. Allowing a content writer access to executives, subject matter experts, sales reps, customers, product demos, and industry events will greatly impact the type of content created. I recently heard author John Bredar speak about his book, The President’s Photographer. History shows that US Presidents who allowed their chief photographers unrestricted access leave a more thorough and engaging record of their presidency than those who limited access. The Presidents could control what was published. Company presidents can do the same. Bredar’s book is full of images that are both ceremonial and personal. His narrative includes details that only an on-the-site writer could reveal.
Strategy, research and refinement are important too when creating fresh content. Yet, during the beginning stages a content writer’s mind needs to wander. Research shows that creative ideas cannot be forced. They pop up while in the shower more often than while behind a desk. Like the presidents who decided to trust their photographers, content writers learn to trust their ideas. The result is authentic, interesting and original content. Your company is one of a kind. Your content should be too.