“Hey there… Here’s your tall Americano… Is there something else I can help you with? Hello?” The Starbucks barista stares at you. “Are you okay?” she asks with slight concern in her eyes.
Suddenly you’re back.
She has no idea you were thinking about your next LinkedIn Pulse article.
“Ah, yes, thanks! I’m fine. Thanks, I was just thinking. Sorry!”
You know the feeling.
You had your great a-ha moment in the car as you were driving through heavy Monday morning traffic filled with busy moms in their Odysseys and Siennas, driving at 20 miles an hour while talking on their phones.
It’s crazy, but you had no pen in the car.
You’ve got to scribble down that idea. What to do?
Finally you get to that Starbucks. Turning left. Waiting for another flow of traffic. Zoom, you’re there.
And then you’re standing in a long line of thirsty Monday commuters.
You’re still thinking of that perfect, perfect blog post. Dreaming and writing in your head.
When you finally get your coffee, you walk out an autopilot. In the car again, of course, you realize you forgot the pen.
And now you’re late to work.
First thing when you get to the office, you’ll write it down. Right?
Of course, when you finally sit down, the screen’s blank. Zip. Nothing. Black hole!
And there’s nothing coming out of you.
Where was that magnificent idea, you ask?
You know the feeling.
1) A Magic Tool
Why did this happen? You were missing your magic tool, of course.
Mark Twain had 40 or 50 of those.
George Patton learned of its importance in West Point.
George Lucas and Ernest Hemingway loved them too!
Yes, I’m talking about pocket notebooks, and you can read the examples of other 17 famous men who thought that life would be amiss if they didn’t carry them all the time.
And there are plenty of options today. From Moleskins to spiral-bound index cards, you can anchor your idea generation and innovation in those magic pages.
You must buy a notebook. Period.
Then every day starting from tomorrow, write every single idea (crazy, stupid, love) you have in that notepad.
You will never regret it.
Trust me. Or Mark Twain.
2) “One True Sentence”
Next, you look and listen deep inside of you. What is it that you need to share with the world?
There are two quotes from Hemingway on this, and both are applicable to any writer or blogger.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
“All you have to do is write one true sentence that you know.”
So of course, it’s entirely your choice to bleed or not to bleed, but you need to absolutely look for that “true sentence.”
Follow your gut feeling to discern the truth in you. You’ll know exactly when it comes out.
3) Tune In and Inspire Others
But what if you don’t know what to write about?
Maria Popova, the genius founder of the Brain Pickings, is a great example of a mega-curator of content, and, at the same time, original writer.
As quoted in the New York Times, Popova is “the mastermind of one of the faster growing literary empires on the Internet…and the champion of old-fashioned ideas.”
And how exactly do you inspire others by curating old books and ideas of the past?
Find content that you personally love to read. For me it’s innovation, creativity, social media, and business.
What’s it for you?
There’s no need to re-invent the wheel here. Just collect and share your passionate side with your friends.
In fact, according to Rainmaker.Fm, this is what “American newspapers did 300 years back, that was basically all that they did.”
Add powerful visuals and graphics, be original with your text.
Illustrate it with your thoughts and timely photos.
Check out Popova’s site for some ideas.
As her friend put it, she “somehow tunes in to what would make other people dream, or inspires them in a way that is quite unique.”
4) Say it in 7 Minutes
By now, you’ve sweated some bullets and found your message.
You can’t stop this flow of genius and think of yourself as the next Na-Bo-Koff, or Tolstoy, or Fitzgerald…
The sky is the limit, right?
But suddenly you hear…
“Honey, would you mind taking out the trash?”
You know the feeling.
You were in the flow, but now you realize that your time on this Earth is finite.
You are not alone here. (Which is by the way, pretty good!)
That means that you MUST realize that your readers are not alone either. And you MUST respect their time.
Even if you’re the next Stephen King.
So what to do? How do we know where to stop?
Apparently, there are some knowledgeable people out there, who have looked into this and determined that the perfect length of your masterpiece should be no longer than 7 minutes, which translates to about 1,600 words max.
And that’s it.
If you won’t listen to me, you should listen to Anna, a mother of two and the founder of the Ask Anna blog, who claims that you can do 28 exciting things in 7 minutes, including folding a basket of laundry, starting a slow-cooker dinner, dusting a living room, greasing squeaky hinges, preparing oatmeal, and much more…
In other words, you have competition.
So make sure that reading your blog is more exciting than greasing squeaky hinges or folding a basket of laundry!
You know the feeling.
5) Engage ‘Em!
Martyn Chamberlin asserts that “if you learn to engage your reader, you won’t need anything else.” Among other engagers and catalysts, you may use your personal story, a pinch of outrageousness, and most importantly, authenticity.
Another blogger, Joel Friedlander,recommends writing something “useful, or entertaining, or educational, or all three.” Or ask your readers’ opinion.
Annie Dillard, the author of The Writing Life, says it best:
Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our heats? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?”
I’m sure, you know the feeling.
6) “Watch The First 54 Seconds. That’s All I Ask. You’ll Be Hooked After That, I Swear”
This headline was created by a totally disruptive website called Upworthy, the site that “posts viral videos with terrible headlines.” Yet, according to The Guardian’s article, Upworthy’s 100 most popular posts were viewed and shared more than 380 million times during 2013!
David Ogilvy once said, “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”
According to CopyBlogger, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
What if you have no clue how to grab people’s attention? Is all lost?
Jeff Goins makes this task easy by offering 5 easy tricks to write your persuasive headline. He shares this brilliant and simple formula:
Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise
How about that?
I love this example that Jeff provides:
“18 Unbelievable Ways You Can Bathe an Elephant Indoors”
What has your best headline been so far?
7) “Saturday Wait, and Sunday Always Comes Too Late”
I’m writing this late Friday night. The kids are already sleeping. I’m listening to Coldplay’s True Love. (By the way, it’s Saturday already. Oops!)
If you were to ask me – when do I post my content?
I’d say, hmm. There’s contradictory advice out there, so why don’t we experiment?
According TrackMaven, Blog posts get more shares on Saturday and Sunday than any other day of the week.
For LinkedIn, BufferSocial suggests avoiding weekends like the plague.
Well, I’m still going to try to publish it today, on Saturday, September 5, 2015, and see what happens with your help.
Go ahead and click those “Like and Comment” buttons (Please do!) I can’t wait to reach one million views.
You know the feeling.
7.5) Bonus Section: Why Bother Writing on LinkedIn?
When a group of Berkley University students asked Haruki Murakami, a bestselling author and practically a literary idol for millions of readers across the globe, about the “aha” moment that started his writing career at age 29, Murakami said it happened when he was watching his favorite baseball team, the Yakult Swallows.
And when Dave Hilton, an American player, hit a double, Murakami felt that wave urging him to write, “On that sunny day drinking beer, I just knew I could write.”
In other words, you should enjoy the process. Having fun while writing is the most important reason to do it.
Secondly, you should make your readers happy. Because reading helps people reduce stress and learn new things.
Finally, I will tell you why I enjoy writing on LinkedIn. Because, without these articles and connections, I’d never have met cool people, social innovators, visionaries, mentors, and 7,000+ inspiring individuals, like you, who share, advise, help and care every single day.
Doesn’t it feel great?
Well, you know the feeling.