We’re often asked where we get all our blog and newsletter ideas from. We could, of course, point out that most of them focus on congratulating ourselves on being so original, different from the norm, brave and utterly hilarious geniuses – so there’s hardly much variety or originality in any of them.
But if we said that, you’d all re-read everything, go “Oh yeah, Mish and Rob really are up their own arses… and they’re boring and repetitive,” and then you’d unsubscribe, and you’d quit the MIA RSS feed, and you’d stop sending us lovely emails… and then we’d feel very alone and would rue the day we ever told you our secret.
So we’re going to tell you another secret: sometimes we really bloody struggle to come up with new ideas. In fact, the other day Mish’s creativity reserves were so low that she started writing a post entitled ”What Buddhist monks can teach us about business”. (Notes here.)
All our paid work is about coming up with ideas too – ideas on the design of a client’s website, or how to get their message across in the website copy, or their branding, or how to move our own business forward, and so on. And while we’re not short of ideas yet, well… we weren’t short of ideas when we first started writing our blog, and now most mealtimes are lengthy silences punctuated with, “Er…’What crossing the road in Bangkok taught me about pricing strategy?’”
So we need to find a method that (ugh ugh ugh) gets our “creative juices flowing” to safeguard us against any “Let’s just put a photo of a handshake on the homepage” moments. Our plan? To do what our hero James Altucher does: every day, make a list of 10 ideas.
It can be a list on anything. Some of James’s examples are: 10 Kindle singles he could write, 10 ideas for standup material, 10 new business ideas for each of his clients, and 10 ideas for new features of his product.
The point of all this is to prevent the “idea muscle” from atrophying – which happens when it’s not put to good use. So even if you never do anything with your daily 10 ideas, the very act of creating them means your creativity will get better in general.
So every day, we’re going to have our “10 ideas” meeting. Here are some topics we’re planning to cover over the next few days: business ideas for one of our clients, types of soft drink we could invent, features we’d like to see on a shoe, ways to save newspapers, shop names based on puns, and ways that hotels can generate “word of mouth” marketing.
We know that the hardest part will be getting into the habit, so we’re going to dedicate a certain time each day to do it – 7pm – and set an alarm so we don’t forget. (FYI 6pm is for our “6pm photo” – to make sure we remember to take regular photos, and midnight is the “midnight snog” – to remind ourselves we’re still a married couple even though we’re work buddies too. And most of the day is reserved for proper work. And yes: we’re well aware that soon we’ll probably have no time left for spontaneity.)
Soon we’ll be writing a blog post of all the other inspiration-gathering techniques other people use, but for now we’re just going to try this one. We’d love to know your techniques though, and also if you have a topic for one of our future “10 things” meetings. You might want us to come up with 10 names for your new coffee shop, or 10 things to do with the jumper your granny knitted you, or 10 ideas for what to do on a snowy day in London.
In the meantime, if you ever see a post on our blog about “the top ten views from our balcony”, feel free to tell us the new strategy isn’t working.
On the blog this week
- It’s a good thing we’re not planning on starting a recruitment company, because people keep asking us how to quit their job and make money for themselves. It’s not fun or glamorous, but here’s the four-step process that worked for us. And if you want to join our “earn $10 by mid-March challenge” (must come up with a snappier name for that), check out the end of the post.
- We’re showing you our TITs. No, no we just can’t bring ourselves to do the whole linkbait thing – it’s a post about questions we’re going to ask prospective clients, and TIT is just an acronym. You won’t click now, but our conscience is clear.
What we’ve been reading
- Our buddy TK runs a startup called Tout, which we use obsessively to spy on people we correspond with (because sometimes checking your own email isn’t enough, and you need to check whether other people are checking their email. Also, Tout should never hire us to write their tagline). Anyway, TK has written about his 3-year journey to get Tout to where it is today, and it’s awesome.
- Got $75,000 to spend? You too could be a New York Times bestselling author.
- Apparently Obama wants to bring in universal preschool, and Penelope Trunk eloquently writes why she thinks it’s a bad idea. Also, note to self: must write something about parenting if we want a lively comments thread (including such gems as, “You are really out of touch with reality. Luckily for you, you have the time and resources to write nonsense like this”).
- Chris Brogan on why you don’t have to be an expert to start something. And you really should start something.
- “Please advise and revert“. Er, what?
(You can now view our entire week’s reading list – including a load of extra links we can’t be bothered to write up – at Readlists.com - where you can easily send the entire collection of posts to your Kindle.)
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