People ask me all the time, “Danny, where do you come up with the amazing content on your blog?” (And by “people” I mean “nobody,” and by “all the time” I mean “not once in two and a half years,” and by “amazing” I mean “so mediocre your sixth grade English teacher is probably spinning in her grave.”)
So feel free to listen in as I answer the question that no one is asking. I’ve learned that creativity requires structure. I used to believe that I would write the best when inspiration struck. And while it’s true that just the right moment can inspire a decent writing session, the fact is that inspiration often doesn’t strike enough to populate more than a handful of blog posts per month.
I’m a frequent victim of writer’s block. Whether it’s writing a blog post, a sermon, a wedding ceremony, a funeral, or a grocery list, I tend to blank out and freeze up. (“Wait…I had it…DANG…what was that…oh yeah, Velveeta.”)
That’s why I believe that we have to structure creativity. Whether you’re a blogger or an author or a songwriter or a painter, creativity rarely “just happens.” For me, I have a folder on my computer where I toss lots of ideas until I’m ready to do something with them. They might be original thoughts, or they might be sound bites from a podcast or a line from a book. I capture those ideas on either my Moleskine notebook (always with me) or my voice recorder (sometimes with me). Even if it’s just a good title or a sentence that has nothing to go along with it, that title or sentence gets dumped in the hopper.
When I sit down to write, I’ll often look over that list and see if there’s anything good. Right now I have random thoughts on powder kegs, my disdain for the overused phrase “everything happens for a reason,” and comparisons between the guest focus at Chipotle vs. La Hacienda. Whether any of those things will ever make it into a blog post remains to be seen (you might want to weigh in now and save us all a lot of anguish later), but they’re there for the process.
In Tony Morgan’s book Killing Cockroaches: And Other Scattered Musings On Leadership, he says that “creativity rarely sneaks up on us.” I agree with that statement. If you’re going to write or preach or paint or teach, you have to develop a left-brained structure for your right-brained inspiration.
So what’s your creative structure? I’d love to hear it. Comment below.