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How I Come Up With Things to Write About - Every Single Day

how to come up with ideas to write aboutPhoto by Timothy Perry on Unsplash

If you’re thinking about further developing your ‘personal brand’ or maybe you’re contemplating a career pivot or a change altogether, you’ve probably thought about creating content. Like me, you’re also eager to get your hands on as many books about your field or areas of interest as you can to soak up as much knowledge as possible.

One of the best ways to make an impact and change the trajectory of your career is to be brave and begin sharing your perspectives and knowledge on the areas you would like to take your career.  

You likely want to start writing or creating short videos to share on LinkedIn and other social platforms but struggle with what to write or talk about. 

I thought I would share a glimpse into some of the things I do to come up with ideas. The most important and impactful thing may surprise you.

Read - A Lot

Like I just mentioned, I read a lot. Sometimes I’m reading and listening to multiple books at one time. Maybe I should narrow my focus and read one at a time. However, this reading is what sparks many of the ideas I write about. 

I am also a professional marketer, so nearly all of what I read is about marketing. I not only apply what I learn to the marketing that I do, but I also think about how these concepts and ideas can be used to think about how we manage our careers as well as how companies could use think differently about hiring and recruitment. 

Currently, when I walk, run, or ride my Peloton, I switch between listening to the audiobook versions of *Deep Work* by Cal Newport, *Free: The Future of a Radical Price* by Chris Anderson, *Atomic Habits by James Clear,* and *The Order of Time* by Carlo Rovelli. 

I’m reading the physical book Stand Out by Dorie Clark and the Kindle version of Draft No. 4 by John McPhee.

When I listen to audiobooks, I typically reference the written versions with either hard copy or Kindle versions and am doing that with “Free” and “Deep Work.” 

Now, I want to be clear. I don’t believe in ‘the muse’ and I don’t solely rely on reading books to come up with the ideas I write about. 

Cross-Subsidies and Why We Write

This morning I was riding my Peloton and listening to “Free.” He mentioned the concept of “cross-subsidies” and I started thinking about how we use our writing or social posts as a cross-subsidy every day. 

An example of a cross-subsidy would be inkjet printers. Printers are usually pretty cheap to buy and the companies that sell them probably lose money on every printer they sell. However, they more than make up for these losses by the margins they make on the ink you have to buy in order to use the printer. 

Thinking about this made me think about why so many people write blog posts or create podcasts. There are currently 500 million blogs and there are currently 850,000 active podcasts consisting of over 30 million podcast episodes.

Some people are able to get paid for their writing or podcasts. That takes a lot of time and even more hard work to achieve. Not to mention, the competition is stiff as seen by the sheer number of blogs and podcasts that exist.

That means, many of us write and create podcasts and may never get paid - at least enough to quit our day jobs. I literally was paid $0.01 for an article I published on Medium - 1 cent!

money I made on Medium

But I keep writing. And you do too. 

Then I thought about the concept of ‘cross subsidies’ and it made me think about why I keep writing. Day after day (today is the 246th consecutive day I’ve written something). 

Why do I do it? Why do I wake up every morning at 4:30 am to write? 

The primary reason is that I love to learn and, even more, I love to share what I learn. I always have. But there’s another, more important reason and it has to do with this concept of cross-subsidies, but it's a little different than selling a cheap printer as a way to make a killing off of the ink.

I write because I know getting my thoughts, perspectives, and insight from what I've learned over the years and continue to learn every day, people will be able to see how I think about things.

It displays what I know and, most importantly, it gives others a chance to shine a light on what I don't know. If I never sent my thoughts out to the world, I would always think I'm right.

The Single Most Important Thing You Should Do

The key to coming up with ideas is to write every day. Every. Single. Day. Even when you don’t feel like it (note: this is what it means to be a professional). 

When you know you’re going to write tomorrow, your mind is subconsciously thinking about and plotting what that will be. This is probably happening when you sleep. 

Because I write every day and I know I’m going to have to write tomorrow, I’m more aware of the world around me. 

I’m more observant and locked into the present. That also means that I will read something in one book that makes me think about something I just read in another book and then an idea is formed. I will usually make a note about this potential topic in Evernote. 

Do I hope to eventually get paid to write? Absolutely. I would love to have one or more articles published in well-known publications like Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, or Inc.

Will I stop if this doesn’t happen? Nope.

Where the Magic Happens

I also write because it allows me to get my thoughts out of my head and somewhere else. This helps me to process what I’ve learned even more and, besides, there’s something magical that happens with you see your thoughts appear in the form of words on a screen. 

So, I’ve written all of this to try to convince you to create. To write or create a podcast. Find a way to share your thoughts, observations, and knowledge with others. Help lift up those around you and make the world a better place because of your perspectives, bravery, and generosity. 

Don’t write for reassurance. Write because you have something to say. If you think you don’t have anything to say, commit to a writing streak of 100 consecutive days. You may surprise yourself in a few different ways. 

(Disclaimer: I’m part of the Amazon Associates program and am paid a commission on purchases resulting from links I share.)