Create an Intersection of Ideas

I especially like the CopyBlogger Content Excellence Challenge, August Prompt:

This month, bring some of your “off topic” passions into your content.

Now, you still need to make it relevant to your audience. This isn’t a permission slip to create content they don’t care about.

Your job is to look for unexpected connections. How can you bring your passion for Marvel comics into your fitness business? Where are the points of intersection between your love of Mark Twain and your personal finance blog?

Nearly 10 years ago, Brian called this the “content crossroads” — the point at which seemingly unrelated ideas connect. And there are always interesting things to be found at the crossroads.

The following is quoted from the post linked above, by Brian Clark. I reposted the points because they are all great points and I know they have worked well for me most of my life. I especially believe in listening to people I don’t agree with. Not an easy thing to do. Some people you don’t agree with just because of who they are. or who you think they are. Listen anyway. You don’t have to spend the day listening, just enough to know you heard them. Listening does not require you to change your mind, just hear what someone else thinks, believes and has experienced.

1. Learn for life.

To me, this is the most important and essential trait for any creative person. You’ve got to go well beyond learning everything in your niche and try to simply learn everything. Naturally curious people seem to come up with ideas easier than most, so kick your curiosity up a notch and investigate any topic that interests you. Then, learn about things that don’t interest you—you might be surprised by what you end up enjoying. You’ll also see more connections between things you thought were unrelated.

2. Change perspective.

Leonardo da Vinci believed that to truly understand something, you need to look at it from at least three perspectives. Leo did alright for himself, so maybe his advice is solid. The ability to look at something that everyone else is looking at and see it differently is the hallmark of creative thinking, and practice makes perfect. Train yourself to dispense with the commodity of opinion and examine things from multiple perspectives. You’ll be amazed at what you find when you play Devil’s Advocate.

3. Free your mind.

Many people think that creativity is something to schedule, like a staff meeting or a luncheon. While setting aside time for “brainstorming” and “thinking outside the box” can be helpful, you’re still perpetuating an illusion. The truth is, there is no box, and you have the ability to be creative at any moment. Allow yourself to recognize your own delusions and social constructs, and start questioning your assumptions at every opportunity. Better yet, reverse your assumptions and see where you end up.

4. Travel.

One of the great benefits of online business is freedom from the tyranny of geography. And the more we see of the world and different cultures, the more our minds open up and see limitless connections and possibilities. One of the worst things we do to ourselves in terms of creativity is to stay within the realm of the familiar. So make it a point to get out, do new things, and travel to new places. You’ll have to check with your accountant to see if a trip to Prague counts as a business expense, but there’s no doubt it can seriously help your business.

5. Listen.

Are you a talker or a listener? This is something I’ve really tried to work on, because I learn so much when I shut up and listen. Every person you meet has a perspective that differs from yours, and you can learn amazing things from simply listening. Just like the Medici family brought all sorts of different people together and sparked something phenomenal, you too can create a content renaissance by interacting with as many different people as possible. Don’t hang out with people who reflect your existing beliefs, hang out with people who challenge you.

Tension

When I think of tension I think, surface tension. I remember a film about spiders which showed one sitting on top of the water in a glass. The hair on it’s legs created surface tension which kept it from getting wet in the water. It could just sit on the surface, due to surface tension.

I think it’s a great illustration for tension. Any change to the elements involved and the spider would begin to sink, need to swim or grab the edge of the glass to prevent itself from drowning. Tension is like that. The moment before, or the balance between, something else happening. Tension can change your story. As a writer I think you can use tension to develop your plot in ways you hadn’t planned on at the beginning. It brings so many new possibilities and reactions.

Tension is something about to change and that’s exciting.

tension

Found on: Get Scribbling

Be a Goal Digger

Goal digger – There’s something I wish I had thought of myself. I found it on an old blog post, on another site.

How can you be a better goal digger?

We make goals for ourselves and then we either meet them successfully or we don’t. Improve your success rate by actually digging in. Put work, hard work, into getting your goals but – make sure the goal is going to work for you. I don’t mean you should pick something easy or simple and give yourself loads of time. If the goal is too easy you won’t feel you really accomplished something to be happy and proud for yourself.

Are you putting in as much effort as if you were digging for gold, or a gold digger?

 

Widen Your Scope by Starting Small

Whatever your target market or writing niche… how could you make this tip work for you? Starting small takes off the pressure to be bigger than you really feel. If you’ve been feeling like a fraud, not able to take yourself and your writing seriously or give yourself the credit you should be… take it down a level. Give yourself some time to catch up with yourself. Just for a short time. Don’t get too comfortable and stay small. Build yourself a nice cushion and then begin taking bigger steps. See how far you have gotten the next time you pause to look back at where you have been.

3. Widen your world by starting small

Counterintuitive as it may seem, in the same way that it makes sense to focus your content, it also makes sense to closely focus any initial beyond-your-own-blog publishing efforts you’re inspired to make. Want to see your name in print? If your town has a local newspaper, pitch some stories to the features editor. If you’ve found a website you especially admire, contact the editor or producer to see if you might contribute content on a subject that requires your special expertise. If there’s a magazine that touches on a subject you love, study the small pieces that appear in the front of the magazine and pitch a story or two to that section’s editor. Your ultimate goal is to develop a relationship with an editor or producer that will give you a regular outlet for your pieces – and a potential springboard to a wider world beyond.

Source: Five expert tips for getting started in travel writing – Lonely Planet

12th May – Keep a One Day Diary for Mass Observation

May 12th 2016 is likely to be quite an ordinary day, but for those researching, the ‘ordinary’ can often provide extraordinary results.  The diaries will be held and used alongside the 1937 documents. We would be very grateful if you could document your May 12th for the future.

Please write as much as you can about what you do, who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat and drink, what you buy or sell, what you are working on, the places you visit, the people you meet, the things you read, see and hear around you, how you are feeling and of course what you yourself think.

Source: 12th May12may

Industrial Urban Noise to Write By

Some people like playlists as audio background while they write. I haven’t found that suits me. The music I like changes my mood, distracts me and I just don’t want to work that way. I could look for white noise, like the TV once the station has gone off the air for the night. But, that’s just a bit too plain and doesn’t seem worth spending the electricity on. I could try the sound of rain, or humpback whales, or the spa music my sister-in-law likes. Those would be nice, enjoyable but… mood altering in a way I don’t really want when I’m writing.

So, what did I think of next… ?

Industrial urban noise – the sound of the subway or street cars in particular. There must be other urban audio recordings for people who don’t want to listen to music or anything too peaceful and harmonious. I’m on the look out for mechanical noises to write by.

The Sadness of the Fixing Things Obsession

I don’t know what the psychological meltdown would be called… that never stopped me.

I have a problem with trying to fix things, restore old and forgotten things. I like history, that’s true. But, it goes beyond that. I like helping the lonely things.

I do know there is a word for people who give personalities to inanimate objects. I don’t keep a lot of stuffed animals. I do have books by the hundreds. Mostly everything else I feel I must fix I find in little online niches these days. (I had to stop buying things to save from the thrift stores but it wasn’t easy and they haunt me when I go in there to look around). Instead of buying these little treasures I post images to Pinterest, or Scoop.it. But, I’ve found myself back at the dmoz directory again and that gives me another outlet for my obsessions with all these little things.

Why do we feel responsible for things?

I know I do. I’m somehow obligated to fix these lonely, forgotten, sad things. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.

It’s a burden. I take on more than I can possibly achieve and then I feel I haven’t done enough!

Enough is a good word. Don’t ask what is enough. When is enough is the real question.

You really need to set limits on your obsessions, whatever they may be. I have learned to not buy the little knickknacks at thrift stores. I can take them home but I can not save them. I can not read all the books I have (but I’m not willing to part with them). Just like ideas. I can get thousands of ideas but I can not work on them all.

So I’m fixing myself. It has up days and down days. Often it’s sad. It’s hard to let go of things, especially ideas!

But you can save your ideas. You can save a lot digitally these days rather than keeping a physical (hard copy) of every knickknack and photograph and book. Ideas can be saved too. Write them down and maybe you will even come back to them someday. A lot of them are worth saving but not all of them are practical enough to get your full attention long enough to complete them.

Be satisfied with enough. Learn to love what you do accomplish rather than feeling sad for all you couldn’t do. In the future they’ll have robots to do the work of a hundred people. I can give them a list of things to do right now!

Find a way to make your obsessions sustain you instead of undoing yourself trying to sustain them.

Find a Writing Partner Online

Free interactive site bringing together writers, co-writers and sources for collaborative writing projects in any medium

CaptureSource: Co-Writers.com

I found this link today while looking at Dmoz. It’s an active site. For me, this seems like an interesting way to find someone else to trade ideas with. Better than joining a writing group and then not being able to participate enough to get noticed and meet anyone.

The Art of Coffee at the Keyboard

Who says you can’t glue yourself to your computer and still have a fancy, hot coffee? We want it all and we want it good. So, I’m coming up with ways to have better coffee, without having to put on your coat and be kind to any others in line at the coffee shop.

Make a Stand

Even the oldest, most worn-looking coffee mug, will look fancier if you put it on a pedestal, a short one. I use an old mouse pad I didn’t want to throw away. It elevates my ordinary coffee to a slightly new level. It also makes coffee circles a quick clean up. Just rinse the mouse pad instead of having to clean things off my desk first.

DIY Coffee Art

Of course you can learn how to do your own coffee art. But, that would take time and more equipment than I have on hand. Instead… use a clear glass coffee mug and add cream (or milk, etc.) slowly. Let it swirl around and create patterns. Don’t stir it until you’ve enjoyed the art.

If that doesn’t work for you go with a coffee doodle. Create your own stencil with your last rejection letter. Once you cut out a shape place the stencil over your coffee mug and let some cocoa powder, or cinnamon drift down. It works better if you don’t drink it black but I’m not telling you how to drink your coffee.

Seasonal Coffee at Home

Add a dash of flare to your coffee with cinnamon, a teaspoon of hot chocolate powder,  a touch of pepper, a lick of salt or little vanilla. Make your own pumpkin spice with actual pumpkin pie spices which you can buy in most grocery stores I’ve ever been in. A bit of extra festivity needed… try liquor. I’ve got whiskey at my desk to add when the coffee gets too cold.

Another idea (if you don’t mind crunchy bits between your teeth) is to add doughnut sprinkles and other small but edible things to the outside lip of your coffee mug.  I don’t highly recommend this. But, I don’t add sugar to my coffee, it may be a great idea for those who do like sweet coffee.

Milk It Up

Heat and then froth your milk. You will need some creativity if you don’t have a frother. A French press pot is nice because it can double as a milk frother (just don’t become a wild and crazy plunger and end up getting it stuck, or breaking the pot). Microwaving the milk does an okay job. Don’t walk away while it’s in there and then remove the milk from the surface (unless that milk clog thing doesn’t bother you).

Frothy milk does change the taste of the coffee. It’s creamier. You can use skim milk and get more froth, likely due to having less fat content in the milk.

Put a Lid on It

I will drink cold coffee, by necessity. I don’t love it. Somehow, coffee gets much colder, faster, at my computer desk than it does any where else in the house. I’ve tested this theory countless times.

I tried buying fancier coffee mugs, those thermal types with take-out coffee lids. They didn’t make much difference and they were a nuisance to wash since they are not dishwasher happy. Instead, I now put a lid over my coffee. Any bit of paper works well. An entire letter still in the envelope does a better job and it gives me something to do with the bills I don’t want to open yet.

Another plus side to having a lid – it keeps the bugs out. I admit I have ignored the odd tiny floating fly when I really did want to finish my coffee, but those occasions were rare. Likely there were more occasions when I just didn’t notice the little floaty thing or it sank… well do you really want to go into the details?

coffeeart

Now you have some ideas to help you with your coffee while you write away at the computer. Hope this helps!

Note: I don’t know the source for this image. I found it on another site which had reposted a lot of images. It just suits this post so well.