I’m no historian, but apparently it was painter, Chuck Close, who famously said, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
I think that’s a valid point, particularly if you do the kind of artistic work where “waiting for inspiration” can turn into an excuse for not producing anything at all.
For those of us, on the other hand, who create “business content” – content that we need to promote ourselves as solo professionals – I think inspiration is worth waiting for. Or, at the very least, worth looking for.
Here’s what I mean…
If you’re a solo professional, you need to be creating content. Blogs, newsletters, videos, free giveaways … all that kind of stuff.
Whatever form it takes, if you want people to view you as a Likeable Expert (Hint: you do), you need to be sharing a point of view in some kind of consistent and scalable (i.e., more than just one-on-one conversations) way.
But it need not be a grind and inspiration can help a lot in that regard.The key is to structure your efforts in such a way that you tap into said inspiration (why am I suddenly talking like William F. Buckley?).
Here are three things I recommend for making that happen:
1. Pay close attention to your mood. Sometimes, I don’t feel like writing. Other times, I can’t get to my keyboard fast enough. Why the difference? I don’t know. But when the mood strikes, I pounce.
This morning, for example, I was about to leave the house when I suddenly got an idea about a particular topic. My office is only seven minutes away (depending on school bus traffic), but I’ve learned to never ignore the Good Writing Fairy, lest she leave me for someone else.
So I grabbed my laptop, sat down at the kitchen table, and got the words out of my head and into a document.
Try to notice when the words are flowing – and clear the decks, if possible.
2. Learn how to get in the mood. Inspiration may be mysterious, but it’s not entirely random. Certain things help to get us into a creative frame of mind.
Maybe your thing is running. Or listening to certain types of music. Or yelling at annoying children.
My go-to writing mood-creator these days is a guy named Tony Horton, the creator of the P90X workout series. Not the workouts themselves; I just happen to love the way he talks. If I need a mood boost, I find him on YouTube and soak it up.
3. Stockpile. I don’t mean stockpiling complete newsletters. That’s usually a mistake because people try to have a bunch in the can before launching and, as a result, they never launch.
I mean stockpiling ideas.
I never sit down at a blank screen to write. Why? Because I spend my days collecting newsletter ideas: little stories and insights and snippets. I write them down (on yellow sticky notes) and keep them in a pile on my desk. When it’s time to write, I have something to work from.
There’s nothing scarier than an empty page. Collect ideas before you need them.
Here’s the bottom line. Sometimes a deadline looms and you just need to get it done. But if you can add some inspiration juice to the process, the getting it done part will be that much easier.
Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in developing email newsletters for professional service firms. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, here.