Overcoming The Blank Page As A Creator

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As I sit down to write this article, I’m not starting from scratch.

The idea for the article came from my Writing Topics list.

The content for the article is being pulled from my Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) System in Obsidian.

All I have to do is pull out the pieces and structure the content.

Sure there is a bit more to it than that but by following this approach to content creation, I’ll never have the problem of starting with a blank screen.

In this article, I’d like to share with you how I capture thoughts and ideas, funnel these into my PKM and use that knowledge to create new and interesting articles for this website.

Overcoming The Blank Page As A Creator


Make Time To Read & Learn Every Day

The first step in creating content is consuming content.

Reading books and online articles, watching interesting YouTube videos, listening to podcasts.

There’s so much information available to you no matter where you are in the world so long as you have an internet connection.

You may have heard of the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”.

Keep this in mind when you’re consuming information.

By cultivating great sources of knowledge, you’ll be able to produce better quality content.

Since I made reading a part of my daily routine, I’ve learned so much more than I would have before.

All of the thoughts and ideas I’ve come up with from my time spent reading certainly justifies the cost of 30 minutes to 1 hour a day.

Make time to consume information each day and you’ll be surprised at the benefits.


Take Smart Notes & Build A PKM

As you take content in, it’s important to understand the main points and ideas that resonate with you. Then synthesize these ideas into your own words.

This process allows you to build a personally curated system of knowledge; a Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) system.

There are lots of names for this concept from your second brain to a collection of smart notes to Zettelkasten.

Whatever you want to call it the main point is this:

  • Create a repository of your notes, thoughts, and ideas as you consume content.
  • Use this knowledge repository to make connections and generate new ideas for articles, videos, whatever your creative endeavor.

I use an application called Obsidian as my PKM.

I have also adopted a version of the smart notes system that’s outlined in the excellent book How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens.

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know I love referencing this book any chance I get!

There are a lot of options out there for taking notes and storing them so try them out and see what works for you.


Capture Every Idea

Now that you’re consuming high-quality content and taking great notes, it will be no surprise when you come up with interesting insights or ideas as you read.

This is where the capture process comes into play.

“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas” - Linus Pauling

I capture pretty much every idea I have into one of my Inboxes, be it Todoist, Notion, or my bullet journal.

If you want to learn more about how I use my Inboxes and how they benefit pretty much everything I do, I wrote a dedicated article about my inbox process that you can find here: Using Inboxes To Manage Your Thoughts And Ideas.

Once an idea is logged into my system, I can be sure it will be processed and refined into something great.

Of course, not all of my ideas are amazing, that’s why it’s OK to simply trash some of them when you’re reviewing your Inbox.

That’s all part of the process: capture, refine, and utilize your best ideas and you can’t go wrong.


Let Topics For Content Emerge Naturally

As you develop your PKM and fill it with interesting notes on a variety of topics, you’ll notice something interesting.

Particular ideas will start to emerge based on the connections you make between your notes.

You might, for instance, find that you have a lot of notes based on the benefits of a day job.

It just so happens that of all of the books and articles you’ve read recently, there was a common thread between them.

This is a perfect example of a topic you could turn into an article or a video:

  • You’ve demonstrated that this topic is interesting to you due to the volume of notes you’ve curated
  • You have a lot of notes to draw from to add great detail to your article or video

You may even find that there are some pieces of content missing, this should prompt you to go and research those areas to add even more detail to this topic.

All of this will allow you to create an informative piece of content that you are motivated to work on.

Plus you can share what you’ve learned with others to further develop your understanding of that topic.

I was skeptical at first that something like this was possible.

However, once I started to see the connections and develop an interest in a particular topic, I was amazed at how motivated I was to learn more about that topic and to write an article about it.


Assemble The Article

When I sit down to write an article, I already have:

  • A topic to write about
  • A collection of personally curated notes on that topic
  • A vague sense of how things should fit together

This means that I’m never starting from scratch.

I don’t sit down to write and think “what should I write about today?” or “I want to write about productivity but I need to do some research first”.

For me, these are scenarios that prevent me from wanting to write.

Instead, by having my topic and collection of notes ready to go, I’m motivated to put the pieces together and find that I rarely procrastinate during my writing time.

I start my article by opening a new file in Typora and copying the article title from my Writing Topics list.

Next, I pull up the related notes on this topic in Obsidian and start to see what I’m working with.

After reading through my notes, I write out a rough outline of the article including headings and some of the main talking points.

Then I simply start writing to fill in the blanks.

As I’m writing, I might be struck by a particular idea and it reminds me of another note I have.

I can bring up the note in Obsidian and I now have a new angle or useful piece of information to offer on that particular point.

This process continues until the first draft of the article is written.

Of course, the article will go through a few phases of editing before it’s ready to be published but for me, the hardest part is done; a first draft of the article.


Share Your Knowledge With Others

One of the best advantages of sharing your knowledge with others is that it provides you with constructive feedback.

If you have developed an engaged audience with your content, they will be able to suggest points you may have missed or things you could improve on.

Of course, you shouldn’t blindly accept feedback from everybody, but keep in mind those you admire and have a select group of people whose advice you value.

There is a tremendous value associated with creating and sharing your ideas and projects online with others.

If you’re struggling to get started doing this or if you’re a little unsure about putting yourself out there, I would recommend reading these books by Austin Kleon:

Many people including YouTuber Ali Abdaal credit these books with providing them the motivation to go out and create a presence online.


Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it helpful in some small way.

If you think this information would be helpful for others, please share this article on social media.

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