There’s something about being the absolute best that inspires me to look inward and find the sparks of genius. Have you ever wondered what makes you special? What can you do that no one else can match or beat?
We tend to idolize our modern-day superheroes.
We think they have something magical that was bestowed by the divine at birth. Indeed, one look at Michael Phelps genetically gifted “wing-span” or Lo Lo Jones‘ hurdle clearing form and you can’t help but agree that they are special.
Recent research however disputes the claim of innate or genetically-driven talent. In fact, numerous studies of talent show that “deliberate practice” is the real hidden cause of genius.
This means that us mere mortals can practice our way to pinnacle of success.
That makes sense for the violinist or the Tour de France bicyclist, but what about the humble blogger?
Sounds weird doesn’t it?
Who in their right mind would want to practice at blogging? I do.
Since blogging is a competitive tool, a sales and leads generator, and extremely efficient method for building brands and fans, it makes sense to be the best at it.
So how do you go from being a 100 word zero to 700-word blog virtuoso? What’s the “practice regimen?”
Here are three training exercises that have worked for me.
Great chefs can taste a dish and identify its ingredients. Great bloggers can quickly dissect any topic and identify how to powerfully communicate it to any audience.
Exercise: Select an article and rewrite it. Your goal is to make the same point in a different way. Pay attention to how the author assembles their “ingredients” to make their case. In your rewrite, tweak the ingredients to make a new argument.
Legendary artists are known for following their instincts. They respect their aesthetic sense and will take huge risks to express their vision of the world. The best bloggers exhibit similar faith in their own instincts. The hardest part is learning to recognize your instincts and acting on what you feel.
Exercise: Speed writing is a powerful way to train your “instinctive ear”. Set a time for 60 minutes. Randomly pick three topics in your niche. Write three short blog posts for each topic. This only works if you immediately write what comes to mind. That first flash of insight is your instinctual self asserting itself. The second thought is your “rational” mind putting on the brakes. Learn to respect the former and be skeptical of the latter.
I’ve discovered that it’s easier to write 5 posts a week than writing one post a month. The reason is that crafting 5 posts every week strengthens my imagination. Like any other muscle, imagination grows stronger with use. This makes intuitive sense. Who would be better at making a soccer goal – the kid who plays everyday or the kid who plays once a month?
Exercise: Start with a topic that you are interested in but not blogging about. For me, it would be fishing. Now brainstorm 10 blog posts connecting your interest to your blog posts. So my list of ten would start with…
….and so on. Practice this every week to strengthen your imagination muscle. Boost the difficulty by picking more difficult topics. For example what can scrapbooking teach you about personal fitness?
A few years ago, I felt that waiting for creativity to strike was the best way to write a blog post. I would wait for weeks. Nothing would come.
Then I read about “epic posting” or writing small novels. The thought was one great post can cure all ills. I tried to be epic. Still, nothing happened.
Both of these methods relied on me suddenly having the skills required to write excellent blog posts. Somehow, the length of the post or some mystical muse could, in a twinkle of the eye, turn me into a consistently great blogger.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. I wish it did. But, the truth is practicing is the toughest but most effective way to getting good quick.