For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by creativity. Not bad for a scientist.
I like writing especially. I’m interested in all forms, non-fiction, fiction, short form, blog posts. I haven’t quite made it to Twitter, but I’ve always been tempted. I even have an alter-ego, Paul Sorol, the chronicler of the Confused Confucius. Paul is a bit slack at the moment because he’s not actually doing very much. But I hope he’ll get his arse in gear to put out some sayings and conversations in the near future.
I like the technology side of writing, especially the websites and apps that make productivity easier and more efficient. I am raving about Notion at the moment with the power of the relational database to manage all the fragments of information. Close behind is Notability that has taken me paperless.
I like the design side but I’m absolutely crap at it. I love thinking that I can produce a logo or color palette. Where in fact I haven’t really got a clue. Luckily there is Canva.
I even use Procreate on the iPad to dabble in a little bit of freeform here and there. Again with no idea how to do it.
And after a one-time career as an academic where I spent a lot of time designing and delivering science courses, I still think I’m half-decent at producing educational material. And now I’m in the process of developing online courses in kajabi for our sustainably FED initiative.
Doing it all yourself
Part of the joy of content creation in the digital age is doing it all yourself. All the technology makes it possible to take writing all the way to the reader on your own.
Only the jack of all trades syndrome applies. There is still a lot to cover even with the help of smart apps. And to stand out key elements must be mastered, in particular the look and feel of your messages, a style niched into your audience, and, critically, knowing your audience.
Fail on these things and no amount of hard work will deliver traction.
All the successful YouTubers and online entrepreneurs have a niche matched to their primary audience even as some topics are more salable than others.
Anyway, this week I had a change of heart and instead of wanting to do all of those things myself, I realised something I should have realized a very long time ago. No one person can be across everything.
So I offloaded platform and website development for the courses to my colleagues and we shared visions of who the audience is going to be. It left me with the content development and carriage of the design and delivery of the message. Still a lot to do but it eases the pressure and reduces the number of steep learning curves.
My usual motivational tools, like the daily word tally, also took a step aside.
Content creation takes more than inspiration
Content development is very different to content creation.
The raw material of creativity is relatively easy to vomit out onto the page or into the microphone. What’s more difficult is to then go back to that material and edit it down to focus on message and craft.
Offloading some responsibility has created more space for the big challenge of editing and a good job too for this fine-tuning is easily the hardest part. How the old school writers with their quills, fountain pens and typewriters managed the editing I have no idea. They must have been awesome at first drafts or had the mental bandwidth of an owl.
In the end content creation is graft. No shortcuts, no technology fixes, and no outsourcing. It’s about being with the words and trusting that the right ones come along.
If anyone is interested in the full process for this blog and the upcoming sustainably FED eLearning initiative, let me know.