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How to Be a More Creative Blogger – Methods of Creativity

Last week while cleaning up my hard drive I came across an old presentation that I gave to a group of young leaders on how to develop your creativity.

As I read through it I realized that some of it was quite appropriate for bloggers wanting to be more creative in their blogging and so thought that this week I’d present a short series of posts based upon my presentation. Today I’ll start with a post on ‘methods of creativity‘.

I’m not sure where I got this material from – it’s likely that at least some of it comes from some of Edward DeBono’s material (but it’s been a decade since I researched this).

So where do creative ideas come from?

As I ponder the different types of creative posts that I’ve written or that I’ve seen others write – they generally come in one of the following ways:

1. Evolution

When new ideas come as a result of building upon previous ones. This is very much a step by step process where at each step the progression in ideas very small but where over time it is significant.

A great blog related example of this has been the evolution of most blogging platforms, like WordPress which periodically updates it’s features – building each time on what they previously had.

Most bloggers enter into this evolutionary process every day with their blogging – taking previously expressed ideas (both their own and those of others) and extending them.

A good question to ask yourself when entering into this evolutionary process is – ‘how could I improve (insert thing to evolve here)….?’

Evolution isn’t the ‘sexiest’ of the methods that I’ll talk about here – but it’s probably the most common way of creating new ideas.

2. Reapplication

When you look at something old in a new way.

The exercise that I did with participants in my presentation to illustrate this point was to give each person a fork and to tell them to come up with as many new uses for a fork as they could in 2 minutes.

Most people start that type of exercise somewhat paralyzed by their previous boxing of forks – but breaking outside the box can lead to some interesting (and sometimes useful )discoveries.

A question to ask - ‘how could I do XXX differently?’

3. Synthesis

Where two or more existing ideas are combined into a third new idea.

This is one of my favorite ways of being creative. I like the challenge and possibilities that it can bring.

This is what happened that fateful day that someone wondered what would happen if they combined the idea of a theatre and a restaurant together – theatre restaurant.

It’s this Synthesis that I think we’re seeing more and more of in the blogosphere at present as people combine blogs with other types of websites (forums, video, audio, job boards, chat rooms etc).

A question to ask when entering into synthesis – ‘how could I take the benefits of XXX and combine them with the benefits of YYY’?

4. Revolution

Where a completely new idea that is markedly different from a previous one is developed.

An example that comes to mind is of a blogger that I recently met who used to be an email newsletter marketer. He found that his newsletter lists were becoming less and less effective so decided to move from newsletters to blogs – reinventing (and enlivening) his business in the process.

His goals didn’t really change but his methods did considerably.

A question to ask – instead of asking ‘how can I make XXX better’ one might ask – ‘what could I do instead of XXX to achieve the same goals?’

5. Changing Direction

Where there is a complete change of focus.

This is a fairly radical process for a business or individual to take and generally involves wiping a slate clean to rebuild from the ground up.

A question to ask in this case – ‘if we could start over – how would we do things differently?’

I’m sure there are other ways to be creative (and I’d be interested to hear your suggestions below) but the above five might make a good place to start.

Note – each of the above methods can be applied as bloggers on at least a couple of levels including during the writing of posts but also on a broader level as we think about our whole blogs and what we’re developing on a big picture level.

Tomorrow I’ll continue this series of posts on creativity with a post on attitudes of creative people.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ali says:

    I’ve used all the above points from 1 thru 4. I’m living number 5 now.

    Big change in my life from having my own business to full time blogging and online activities.

  2. Richard says:

    I think it was Einstein who said Creativity was 1% inspiration 99% perspiration. With blogging I think its hard to come up real revolutionary ideas, but that’s no harm. Useful to think of these 5 different angles for creating new ideas though.

  3. Sunlust says:

    I can’t wait to read your tomorrows post.
    I’m planning to start a series on my newbie blog, so reading something profesional as your posts will help me a lot.

    About creavity it comes from motivation in my case. If I’m motivated then I’ll most likely find ideas, if not then it’s tough.

    Regards

  4. Hi Darren,
    I like your ideas to write about creative methods.
    In my blog I write about my personal thoughts about creative blogging somme time ago. it’s one of the top posting of my blog but in german. Hope you or your readers will take a look at it with the help of googles translation or so.
    Happy reading and thanks for inspiration, day after day.
    Regards
    Joerg

  5. Hi Darren,
    I like your ideas to write about creative methods.
    In my blog I write about my personal thoughts about creative blogging somme time ago. it’s one of the top posting of my blog but in german. Hope you or your readers will take a look at it with the help of googles translation or so.
    Happy reading and thanks for inspiration, day after day.
    Regards
    Joerg

    Weblog-Impuls #1: 16 Erkenntnisse eines kreativen Bloggers

  6. Sorry, Darren, please kill the comment without the link. :))

  7. JoLynn says:

    Thanks Darren.

    I can especially relate to #2 — it’s just like my technical creativity class. We had to pass around an object (like a hangar, or a plunger) and each come up with a different use for it, other than it’s intended use. It got kind of hard for some, especially when they were at the end of the line, but it was great fun. Really gets your mind out of the stereotypes that we tend to live in.

    I also get inspired by comments that my readers leave, and I keep a written log of future article ideas whenever anything pops into my mind which happens 99% of the time when I’m away from the computer. I’m always writing something down.

  8. Tris Hussey says:

    Caffeine man, I just use a lot of caffeine!

    Okay I read a ton too ;)

  9. Armen says:

    I can’t understand why people have a blog, and just copy other people’s work. I find that the most rewarding part of blogging, is coming up with content that is fresh, and is bringing something new to the blogosphere.

    The only reason I started my new blog last week, was because I am convinced I can bring new ideas to an already saturated area. I just hope I can be consistant.

  10. ross says:

    Hey Darren

    Great tools, I’ve used a few of them in the past and I’ll use the others in the future thats for sure (maybe even on my Top 5 post!).

    This post reminded me of an innovation agency called ?WhatIf! who I have worked with before on a couple of projects. I mention these guys because they have got a couple of really good books that I think you’d enjoy (Sticky Wisdom in particular) and they have also got offices out here in Oz (in Sydney though). I think you should definitely check those guys out – you’d have a lot of fun working together!

    Anyway, great post – I’m expecting everyones group writing project entries to be doubly good now!

    Ross

  11. Coming up with original content could be tiresome, but if you just open yourself up to concepts and ideas other than what you normally write about, “evolution” and “revolution” won’t seem that difficult — my two cents for the day.

  12. Good ideas!

    I’ll add that when I do keyword research, I get alot of creative ideas from the longtail phrases. I’ve got GREAT ideas for posts for YEARS to come.

  13. Karen says:

    Congrats on the blogging article and mention of your name in the Chicago Tribune today!

  14. Tom O'Leary says:

    Another great top 5!

    If I am stuck for creativity, I try to use some random idea from somewhere totally unrelated to shake up my conventional thinking. For example if I was stuck while I was writing a post about cats, I might ask myself “What do submarines have to do with cats?” Sometimes nothing comes up, sometimes something too convaluted comes up and sometimes I am off and racing with a brand new creative train of thought. The most important thing is breaking away from the rail roads that my thinking gets stuck on. I love reading what works for other people.

  15. Nice post! Though, what’s actually the hard part is getting into the “creative zone”, maybe you’ll cover more on that later?

  16. I also do want to stress the importance of reading correlating to writing. When I experience some sort of writer’s block, I usually pick up something to read — the newspaper, an old book, the menu at my favorite restaurant…anything really. Great ideas come from things you pick up along the way. Many of our modern-day authors/writers are exceptional at what they do because they know that learning is continuous; creativity and inspiration can certainly come from anywhere you read or see or feel.

  17. I find that by creating lots of sketches my ideas flow a lot faster.

    Far too many of the new designers today fail to even lift a pencil before jumping straight onto the computer, which is sad.

    Pixel-pushing will severly limit your capacity to create an excellent logo (for example).

  18. That’s exactly what people should do to reignite that creativity in them — actually do something, anything. I was reading this book not too long ago and the author mentioned that she wasn’t able to come up with any ideas for her project for months. After signing up for African Dance class — which had nothing to do with her topic, by the way — she found a new energy, a new inspiration to start writing again. For some people, it takes such drastic steps to find their creativity; for others it takes much simpler catalysts…free-hand writing, doodling, grocery shopping. Whatever approach you choose to take, it just has to be anything BUT abdication.

  19. Very inspired, well done.

  20. June Beezy says:

    Darren is the guy who single handedly got me interested in blogging. Thanks for all your efforts. Since I’ve moved to wordpress everything is SUPOIB! Love the automation.

    Another great post by the blogging leader, thanks and keep keeping on.

    I’m definitely at number 5. Combining IM knowledge with a Blog is a killer. Loves it!

  21. love the articles, creativity is important to attract readers and educate them

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