After 8 months of working out of town, my wife finally showed up Friday night, driving over 3 days from Arkansas back to New York. I helped her bring lots of stuff into the house, as she has no concept of light packing.
One of the things she brought home from the road was a 32″ flat screen HD TV, which I convinced her to let me set up in the living room with the caveat that I’d donate the Sony blu-ray DVD player I bought while I was on the road. She’d agreed, so we set out to put it into our entertainment center, which was more of a project than you can imagine.
See, the TV we were taking out was also a Sony, a monster of a TV that was probably the best TV we had in the house at one time. It was a traditional 32″ but you know how Sony is when it comes to their TVs. It’s easily 5 inches longer than any other TV we still have in the house and heaps heavier. This meant that moving the entertainment center away from the wall so that we could move the TV out was going to be a major chore.
It took about 25 minutes to take a lot of the stuff off the entertainment center, unplug a few things and unhook wires, wedge a couple of things underneath it so we could move it easier than without those things, and finally get it moved. Then both of us wiggled the TV out of the entertainment center, got it to the floor unscathed, and pushed it on the rug to a location where it would be out of our way.
Before I could put the other TV, she says to me “I think we should move the living room furniture around.”
I said “Aren’t you tired after driving 7 hours?”
She said “Since I have to clean around everything anyway, let’s just move some things around to see if we can make it better.”
So we did. Even I came up with a couple of ideas of where we could move some of the stuff we had and 2 1/2 hours later we were finally finished moving, cleaning, and my setting the TV back up. We’ve had our house 16 years and this is the 4th time we’ve rearranged things, and I have to admit that every time we’ve made a change it’s improved our space.
Even though I have a problem in relating it to redesigning my blogs and my websites, I can easily relate it to my process of blogging over all these years. When I first started blogging back in 2005, I really wasn’t sure how I was supposed to write, let alone really know what to write about.
Some of my earliest posts on my business blog consisted of a couple of paragraphs; every once in a while it was just one paragraph, often linking to an article or a video somewhere else; this was in the days before embedding videos. For the longer ones, I hadn’t figured out spacing or a true storytelling style. I also hadn’t figured out how to write posts that could teach anything or explain things all that well.
It carried over to this blog when I started it. I was all over the place, which I didn’t mind as much as the fact that even then I still hadn’t really developed a style of writing. I also never really considered myself as being all that creative since I talked a lot about the happenings of the day. Considering that I wrote over 900 articles in the first 3 years, that’s saying something.
You know when I finally started to realize that maybe my writing was turning the corner and that I was getting more creative? It was post #924, titled 5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker, when I finally wrote a post in what I consider a true story form and related each point to the process of blogging. It then made me take a look back at my business blog and I realized that just a few days earlier I had written a post there where I told a story and related it to a leadership issue, that being empathy.
It was at that point I knew that I had finally turned a corner; I had learned how to be a creative writer, not a boring writer like what I often see on a lot of blogs that I may visit only once and never return to. I don’t even mean those blogs where you might see a post every 3 months or so, or a blog that only has a few posts and the owner never writes another word.
Do you know why in general I dislike guest posts on blogs? Because the writing is usually fairly stilted and boring. They are sometimes pretty accurate, but at other times they’re pretty much a rehash of something you could find on a thousand other blogs, along the lines of what I talked about in my post about misleading titles and bad blog content. That’s one reason why, if I ask someone to write a guest post (the only way guest posts show up on this blog), I know they’re going to deliver something special, like my friend Kelvin Ringold did when he wrote this post on positivity.
I’m not going to lie; being creative, truly creative, isn’t easy. I can pretty much write whenever I want to. When I used to write music, I could write a new song in less than 30 minutes, with lyrics in probably an hour.
For the last 6 years I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with one of my websites, and for the last 5 months I’ve been trying to figure out how I want my business website to look. Some have said I should hire someone else to do it for me but I already don’t think I’d like it; isn’t that a shame? I don’t have a vision of what I want either of them to look like, and I don’t have a true vision of what I want the one website, my Services and Stuff site, to even be about, since what I’d originally planned for it has never worked.
Thus, my creativity is limited to blogging and writing; maybe music if I ever decide to play piano again. So, along the vein of trying to help you figure out ways to be creative, to do something different on your blog as it relates to creativity, here are some tips you might try.
1. Try visualizing what you want to talk about as a story.
I know you have at least one adventure a day, whether it’s big or small. You saw the story I told to being this post. Well, that was only a few hours out of a day of stories, yet it was the best story I had to relate to this topic. It’s okay to integrate a personal story to help highlight what you want to talk about. Take a look at this post on personal empowerment by Dana Gore. She tells a personal tale that leads you to what she does to help get her perspective back in order so she can push forward when she needs a boost.
2. Write like you talk.
When I had a few people read portions of my last book, I wanted them to look at the content and tell me if I was getting my points across better because I’d had to rewrite most of the early content of the book. Instead, most of them wanted me to change my grammar, saying it wasn’t proper for a book.
I ignored all advice relating to that because in my mind I was writing the book in my own vernacular, with my own rhythm and cadence. I did clean up some things here and there because I tend to use certain words in my normal pattern of speech that are pretty passive and I knew that wouldn’t work as well in the book. For that matter, I’ve tried to change it up on the blog as well.
Outside of that, I write pretty much the same way that I talk. Sometimes I use big words; sometimes I use slang. I don’t cuss so you’ll never have to worry about seeing that here. I’d like to think a good example of my pattern of speech was when I talked about my plan to make repairs on my house but the ladder came up missing. Truthfully, that’s pure “me”, if I say so myself.
3. Don’t be afraid to star in your own story, even if you’re the set-up person.
There’s a lot of things I do right and things I do well. There’s also a lot of things I’m bad at. Finally, there are times when I’m a visual participant and not actually a part of the story, even if I was there.
When you’re looking to be creative, nothing says that you have to win every step of the way. Nothing even says you have to even be in the story; observation isn’t such a bad thing. I wrote a post years ago where I told the tale of someone I knew who lost a lot of business because of bad blogging behavior. I was only a minor part of the story because I was first the observer, then the guy who went looking for an answer to a minor mystery. It led to a great point about making sure you’re not doing things with your blog that could cost you money, prestige and friends.
That should be enough to get you started. Let me know your thoughts and successes if you decide to give it a shot.