Every time you sit down to write an article, it’s the same story.
You sit there and you can’t really think of what to put in your newsletter.
You really want to say something, but nothing comes out.
The longer you sit there, the longer the minutes will tick away.
And before you know it, the phone will be ringing, the distractions will be piling up and you’ll find yourself mindlessly wandering through Facebook or emails.
That’s why you need to leave your office.
Go down to your local bookstore instead. Get yourself a coffee or a drink first, and now that you’re in a different state of mind, go to the section where you can find books on your topic.
Which means that if you write about gardening – well, head to the gardening section.
If your business is graphic design, the graphic design section it is. No matter what your area of expertise, you’ll find a few dozen books on the topic.
What do you do next?
Open the book to the Contents Page. Here’s what you’ll find. You’ll find a dozen topics, just sitting there for you. And you? You’re already the expert.
So let’s say your newsletter is about ‘gardening’ and you are in the gardening section of the book store.
Your eye falls on a book called “Raised Bed Gardening”.
You open the book, swing right to the contents page, and voilà, this is what you find:
Chapter 1: Advantages And Benefits To Using Raised Bed Gardens
Chapter 2: The Proper Placement Of Raised Bed Gardens
Chapter 3: Standard Designs and Preparation For Your Raised Bed Garden
Chapter 4: Plants Suitable For Raised Bed Gardens
Chapter 5: Potential Problems That Are Avoided With Raised Bed Gardens
Chapter 6: Making Your Own Compost
Chapter 7: Best Soil Recommendations For Your Raised Bed Garden
Chapter 8: Strategies for Planting Seeds In Your Raised Bed Garden
Chapter 9: Natural Methods To Resolve Crop Infestation
Chapter 10: Crop Rotation In Gardening
Suddenly you have at least ten topics that you know quite a lot about.
Well, get out that pen and paper, or take a picture of the Contents page with your smartphone. And then close the book. Yes, close it, because you have everything you need. Within that Contents page were about ten ideas that you could easily write about—after all, you do know a fair bit about raised bed gardening, don’t you?
But you can’t write ten articles just today, so start with one.
Let’s look at the topic that we spotted in Chapter 9, for instance: Natural methods to resolve crop infestation. Now the author of the book would have methods, but hey, you have your own methods as well.
And this is the important part…
The subscribers on the mailing list — your mailing list — care a hoot about what that author thinks.
But they do care what you think. They care about the way you present your ideas. Remember, they signed up to your list for a reason. So even if you were to write exactly the same ideas as mentioned in the book, they would still want to hear your take on it.
Now that you have your topic, make several points about how you’d deal with ‘infestation’.
Talk about the what: What is infestation?
Talk about the why: Why is it such a problem?
Talk about the when: When does it mostly occur?
Talk about the steps: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4.
Talk about the mistakes: What mistakes does a home gardener make?
And there you have it. Your visit to the book store is super-fruitful.
You got ten topics and just one topic has gotten you all fired up. There are still nine more to go. And you’ve opened just one book.
There are dozens more books, but you can leave those for another day. Finish your coffee and let’s head back to someplace where you can jot down your ideas. Once you’ve done the jotting, only then do you go back to your office to complete your article.
But isn’t this plagiarism? Aren’t you just copying and ain’t that nasty?
No, you’re not just copying. That is why you closed the book immediately after you wrote down the topics on the Contents page.
The goal was not to get ‘inspiration’ from what the author wrote. Instead it’s just a way to get you jumpstarted on some topics. Because you sure as heck can write a ton of stuff on any of the topics in the Contents pages of the books on your topic.
The place you were stuck was coming up with the idea itself. If you chose to keep the book open, you might have inadvertently copied the author’s ideas, and that would be bad. Mucho bad!
Instead, all you’re doing is firing up the ideas in your brain and ideas are free. There’s no copyright on ideas.
Surely I can do this while sitting in my office—why go to the book store?
A big part of writing is getting your brain in the right frame of mind. With all those distractions in your office, it’s hard to think, let alone write. In the book store, your mind is a lot more relaxed.
Everyone gets stuck when writing.
Almost everyone continues to sit in their office.
Almost everyone avoids the trip to the local bookstore.
Make the trip. And make it soon.
It sure beats going nuts about writing your next newsletter.
Have you used your local book store to find content? Or do you find content ideas in other nooks and crannies? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!