02 Aug Want to write great content? Pay attention
I once asked a well known television producer where he got ideas for his stories and documentaries.
He looked at me quizzically before replying:
“Stories are everywhere.”
At the time I found his answer slightly maddening.
Back then I was a frustrated media lawyer, desperately yearning for more creativity in my work. What did he mean stories are everywhere? His work was complex, often involving trusted sources and hard-won confidences. It felt mysterious and out of reach, as if he had some mystical power to coax stories out of the ether, that I did not possess.
Books on writing can leave this impression too. Some writers tell of channelling their work, or of poems that somehow find the scribe, and all they have to do is “stay open”. Much as I love these enchanting tales, they can leave a nagging sense that writing is a gift only truly open to a chosen few.
My conversation with the producer took place more than a decade ago, before Facebook and Instagram and podcasting, when blogging seemed like the weird and pointless pursuit of people with too much time on their hands.
But these days I often think of his advice. Because when it comes to blogging and social media posts
The smallest incident can become a compelling story.
When clients ask for advice on how to write social media posts, or what to blog about, my first tip is always to
As you go about your day, pay attention to what’s happening right in front of you.
Observe the way we interact with each other.
Notice what triggers you.
Be conscious of your immediate response to an email or a turn of phrase or a request for help.
Look for signs and synchronicities.
Mentally catalogue moments of beauty – the look on someone’s face, a perfect flower, an instant of heart-to-heart connection.
When you read a great book or hear a great podcast, think about how the teachings are showing up in your life.
And most of all
Stay open to the lessons.
Maybe you were cut off in traffic, you forgot to pick up essentials at the supermarket and had to improvise, or you finally figured out how to back your car up a steep muddy driveway.
Such everyday incidents are instantly relatable – yet they speak of perseverance, of problem solving, of resilience, of not sweating the small stuff.
Your posts don’t have to be complicated or sophisticated to make an impact. You don’t have to come up with an entirely new business model or life philosophy.
Try reflecting instead on what is right in front of you.
For an example of someone who is doing this really well, check out my friend Helen Jamieson over at I Built a Network, [link https://www.facebook.com/ibuiltanetwork/] who shares reflections from everyday life in her regular Facebook lives.
To kickstart your content ideas and get clear on the message at the heart of your work, download my Write to the Heart of Your Message workbook – it’s free!