It was either due to Ray Bradbury’s death anniversary recently or the one week crash diet of all 5.5 seasons of Mad Men that got me thinking about creatives. Creative writers that hurled their stories to a hungry audience or creative copywriters who’s art was fully respected by allowing them to drink excessively and lounge in reflective procrastination. It was a different era. In hindsight, it seems less was done but more value was put into the result. In today’s content driven world, it feels like we’re pumping out an arsenal of content. We’re even talking about how to be more creative, but are we actually creative?
When I wade through the 5am-7am content stream in the morning, swimming through content from at least four different industries and interests, half the time I can’t help but feel I utterly wasted my time. Most of that 2 hours is spent curating and scanning – scanning through a slosh pile of irrelevant chatter to find a small handful of content that matters. I know I’m not the only one that reads the daily RSS feed without the hunger we have when we know we’re getting something truly great from someone truly great.
The point here is that your content, whether you under daily curation, deliver it in a weekly email campaign, or dish it out once a month in an epic essay – should matter. It should matter. It shouldn’t just be something we consume like vacuous parasites. It should be something that changes us.
Writing is an art. Not everyone is born and writer and some of us have the privilege of blossoming into one; though you don’t need to write wondrous legacy-fulfilling novels to be a writer. Yours is the art of consumable content. 250-1000 words of easy to digest gourmet content that caters to a fast-food palate. And this is how you do it: you learn to deliver art at every turn. You learn to turn your little bit of copy into something your readers trust and want again and again. Don’t worry about social shares. Worry about repeat readers. Readers who think, “I wonder what she thinks.”
So how do you capture those sought-after ideas? Borrowing from German literary critic, philosopher, and essayist Walter Benjamin:
Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.
Translation: keep track of your ideas. The best ideas come to you while you’re sounding off your thoughts to a colleague or half-willing ear. A pen and some scratch utensil is all your need. Today, two tabs of a hair dye box and an eye liner turned pen and paper as I surmised a brilliant conclusion to a troubling thesis while have a completely non-related chat.
Consider no work perfect over which you have not once sat from evening to broad daylight.
All your work should have at least a day to marinate. People say you need to look it over with fresh eyes in the morning – to catch mistakes. We say wait a day or two because once you start writing, your brain doesn’t turn off the minute hit that last punctuation mark. Your mind still pursues the thought wantonly. This is where and when you’ll think of the best stuff.
Ray Bradbury would agree. He speculated that, “Escaping from a typewriter is part of the creative process. You have to give your subconscious time to think. Real thinking always occurs on the subconscious level.”