Do You Really Have to Write What You Know?

By Miranda Marquit

Pretty much every aspiring writer has heard this advice: “Write what you know.”

The logic behind this approach makes sense. A certain expertise and confidence accompanies knowledge, and the words come easier when you write on a familiar topic. But you don’t need to write what you know in order to build a successful blogging business.

It’s especially important to learn how to learn about various topics if you plan to provide content to other blogs. Today, I provide content to dozens of blogs and web sites each month. When I began as a freelance writer and professional blogger, I found that the topics I knew about weren’t in high demand. In order to land more clients, I began writing about things I didn’t know. That flexibility is one of the reasons I have so many clients today.

Approach Blogging Like Journalism

While many journalists eventually settle into specific beats, the reality is that many of those beats aren’t the result of chasing after what the writer “knows.” My journalism background provided me with tools I could apply to blogging, but you don’t need formal training to develop the following skills:

  • Research: It’s possible to find information about almost any topic, thanks to the Internet. If you want to learn to write about something you don’t know, start with a little research. Just make sure that you understand how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
  • Identify reputable sources for your information. When I first started writing about finances, I knew nothing about money management — beyond the fact that I had more debt than I was comfortable with. Research into the world of finances has not only allowed me to write about money, but it has increased my own financial savvy. Now finances fall into the category of “what I know” and I even have my own ideas about money management.
  • Interviews: So, you aren’t an expert on a subject that you’re writing about. Find someone who is! Find an expert to interview, and write a blog post based around his or her viewpoint. One of the easiest ways to find knowledgeable experts is to turn to Help a Reporter Out (HARO). You can offer a query, and you’ll likely get plenty of eligible responses.

With the ability to research, experts to interview, and a willingness to learn, there is no reason to limit yourself, as a writer and a blogger, to what you know. In fact, getting outside your writing box is probably good for you (and your writing business) in the long run.

Expand Your Horizons

Even if you decide to focus mainly on writing what you already know, don’t limit yourself to those topics. Take the time on occasion to write about something you don’t know. It’s a good challenge that will force you to improve your writing skills. Plus, you’ll learn something new, and maybe interview someone interesting that you wouldn’t normally have met.

Too often, we think we can’t do something because it’s different from what we’re used to. Forcing myself to become knowledgeable about a topic I didn’t know turned me into a better writer, a more successful person, and helped me build a successful blogging business. Plus, I like learning new things, so it’s been fun, too.

Author’s Bio: Miranda Marquit is a freelance journalist and professional blogger. She writes about freelancing at MirandaMarquit.com and money at PlantingMoneySeeds.com. She is also the author of Confessions of a Professional Blogger: How I Make Money as an Online Writer. Follow Miranda on Twitter: @MMarquit.

Q&A with Ian Greenleigh, author of The Social Media Side Door

As a small business owner, I’m always hustling to make the most of limited resources. The techniques presented in Ian Greenleigh’s new book, The Social Media Side Door (McGraw Hill, October 2013), are designed to help us take advantage of the seismic shifts that have happened in recent years regarding access and influence.

Ian Greenleigh: The Social Media Side Door

Enjoy this Q&A with Ian, as he offers some great insights from the book.

1. What is the social media side door?

We’re living through an extraordinary time. Social media is decimating the human and technological gatekeepers that have historically prevented non-elites from accessing and influencing powerful people and institutions. The barriers are crumbling all around us, and so many people haven’t even noticed, or they’re simply not yet equipped to take advantage of these massive opportunities, what I call “social media side doors.”

2. How did you discover it?

I really struggled to get a decent job during the recession. I had just graduated with a degree in political science, even though it was a field I didn’t want to pursue. I was in sales, and I wasn’t very good at it. It was pretty bleak. None of the things our society teaches about getting great jobs were working. I thought I was bright, hardworking and creative, but I couldn’t find a way to convey that to the professional gatekeepers in recruiting.

I needed to try something radically different, so I scraped the bottom of my dwindling savings account to attempt something I had seen on a blog. I took out a Facebook ad, pointed it at a special “hire me” page on my blog, pointed the ad at decision-makers at the top companies in Austin, and saw the clicks roll in. Within a few weeks, I had a nice array of options for my next career step.

It wasn’t an anomaly. Once I started looking for them, I realized that social media side doors existed almost everywhere barriers seem to exist. I also realized that no one had written a guidebook to help people spot and take advantage of these new opportunities, so I decided to write it myself.

3. How can people find and open their own side doors in social media?

Realize that side doors often open gradually. For example, every time you leave a comment on a CEO’s blog, or tweet a piece of intelligent feedback to an influencer, you’re opening that side door up an inch or two more.

Think about the goals of the person whom you’re trying to reach, and reflect on how you can help them get there faster. You can do things like introduce them to other influential people via Twitter, interview them on your blog about a project they’re promoting, or help them find information they’re after.

Relationships are still the basis for almost all of the value created in social media. Social media makes it really easy to answer the question, “what has this person done for me lately?” As such, you’ll hear “yes” far more often when you’ve provided value before an ask, or in conjunction with it.

4. Why should we try to open these side doors sooner rather than later?

Imagine it’s the dawn of the 20th century, and you’re a salesperson, marketer or jobseeker. Telephones are expensive and rare, but somehow you’ve acquired one for free. There are no gatekeepers to screen the calls of the rich and powerful, and you can reach any of these fellow telephone owners simply by asking a switchboard operator to put you in touch. If you wait too long to take advantage of this situation, your competition will beat you to the punch, your approach will no longer be unique, and access now seems like more of a liability than an opportunity to those being accessed.

We’re not quite there yet with social media. We see rising adoption among powerful people, but the human and technological gatekeepers haven’t caught up yet. And innovation happens so rapidly, that the arrival of each new social network brings with it a new set of access and influence opportunities.

Author’s Bio: Ian Greenleigh is a social media and content strategist, and author of The Social Media Side Door: How to Bypass the Gatekeepers to Gain Greater Access and Influence. He helps companies turn data, ideas, and relationships into true thought leadership. His words and ideas have been featured in Harvard Business Review, Ad Age, Adweek, Digiday, Ragan, Seth Godin’s The Domino Project, and elsewhere. He writes and speaks on a wide range of topics, including changing consumer-brand relationships, the convergence of personal identities, and the radically shifting landscapes of access and influence. You can connect with Ian on Twitter: @be3d

Talking Your Way to Success

By Eric Nacul

John is addressing a group of his peers on how to offer better customer service, when one of his colleagues starts periodically tapping the chrome plunger of a service bell. Undaunted, he continues and is delivering what he considers the talk’s most powerful point when his audience cuts him off mid-sentence with clapping.

Far from being rude, however, the group is helping John become a more effective communicator at one of the more than 13,500 nonprofit Toastmasters International clubs worldwide. And with more than 40 percent of those clubs sponsored by corporate giants like State Farm, Bank of America, IBM, Boeing and a host of government agencies, Toastmaster membership might well be one of the best tools for success.

Toastmasters traces its roots to 1903 when Ralph Smedley, education director of a YMCA in Bloomington, IL, saw a need for speech training there. Smedley formed the first permanent club in Santa Ana, CA, in 1924.

Meetings are typically held weekly and aim to enhance communication skills as well as listening, evaluation, interpersonal and leadership skills. Membership also offers great networking opportunities. While they vary from club to club, dues and fees typically run about $200 annually.

Toastmasters is the epitome of learning by doing. While each club does have officers, the duties of running a meeting as Toastmaster of the Day rotates from member to member. The various responsibilities of a meeting rotate as well. Key responsibilities include:

  • The Ah Counter counts the times a speaker uses “ah,” “and” and other filler words and uses a bell, clicker or other audible device to alert the speaker each time one is used.
  • The Grammarian keeps track of grammar mistakes, awkward sentence structure, pronunciation and other errors.
  • The Time Keeper typically uses an electronic timer to track a speech’s time and warns speakers at pre-determined points.
  • An Evaluator is assigned each of the meetings speakers to note what the speaker did well and what he or she can improve upon.

Toastmasters meetings usually run 60-90 minutes. An hour-long meeting might include three speakers giving 5-7 minute speeches as well as three or four Table Topic speakers of 1-2 minutes each.

While those giving longer speeches typically know well in advance and can write and prepare for their speech, Table Topic speakers have no idea of what their topic will be and have no time to prepare. The Table Topics Master chooses a topic ranging from the silly to the profound and then chooses a member at random to speak on it. Next he chooses another topic and another member and then another. Each member has the time it takes to stand to prepare.

The longer speeches are typically prepared in advance, with beginning Toastmasters working through the Competent Communicator manual, a guide on how to organize, research and write a speech as well as lessons on body language and vocal tone in delivering a speeh. Also in the manual is information on effectively giving various types of talks such as a persuasive speech, an inspirational speech, an entertaining speech, etc.

Members who aspire to greater oratory heights also have a number of advanced levels they can achieve. Periodic speech contests are held as well with advancement to local, regional and national levels possible.

But being a better speaker is only part of being a better communicator and Toastmasters also helps hone its members listening and critiquing skills. Evaluators are assigned to each speaker to watch, listen and note what the speaker does well and what needs improvement. Constructive evaluations are given with evaluators first noting what was done well and then giving areas in which the speaker can grow.

Meetings themselves are structured so that members become proficient in conducting efficient and effective meetings. Responsibilities for conducting meetings rotates among members as do other meeting responsibilities in addition to those already mentioned. There’s also a General Evaluator who observes and reports on the overall quality of the meeting.

For most members, improvement in their communication skills is fairly quick. And improvements in confidence, quick thinking, listening and leadership well serve anyone wanting to succeed. To learn more about Toastmasters, visit toastmasters.org.

Author’s Bio: Eric Nacul is a freelance writer, graphic designer and tech enthusiast who contributes to a number of sites, including one of his favorites, bestfreeonline.net. You can find him on Twitter as @ericnacul.

If You’re Skipping the Smaller Conferences, You’re Missing Out

Walking the exhibit hall at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is an awe-inspiring experience.

Look! There’s CNN’s camera crew. Look over here, there’s a drawing to win a new car! Come over here, there are hovercrafts you can pilot yourself. And Debbie Gibson is performing in this booth…

smaller conferences are better

The exhibits are huge, the keynotes are standing room only, and conference sessions are elbow to elbow. From what I’ve heard, SXSW is heading in the same direction…possibly too big for its own good.

That’s why I like to focus on the smaller, more intimate conferences, like SOBCon (back in 2014), Social Slam, or the upstart ConvergeSouth. There’s still plenty of room for learning new stuff, meeting new people, and forming quality relationships. There’s less swag, and more value for your money.

Why Smaller Conferences are a Better Investment

  • You can focus on a conference that dives deeply into your niche. Rather than a huge, generic marketing conference, try one that focuses on content marketing.
  • Have better conversations. When you can actually hear yourself talk, you can have those great hallway discussions that often turn into long-term relationships. With fewer people milling around, you have a better chance of having more than a quick chat.
  • Get access. Some of the smaller conferences pull in heavy hitter speakers, and you can have much easier access to meet them. Especially if you spend the little bit extra for a VIP pass.
  • Enjoy the adventure factor. Sometimes things are just more loose at a smaller conference. You might find yourself in a dive bar at the after-after-after party building memories with people you only knew online. Not that that ever happened. I’m not allowed to say.
  • Anticipate the “let’s put on a show” factor. Smaller conferences often have a hardy band of local volunteers who are shouldering the burden of hosting. It’s a fantastic opportunity to offer your help with the little things. If a speaker flakes out, you could be there when you’re needed to jump in (I’ve seen that happen). If the audio-visual hookups are wonky, you can jump up and troubleshoot. Earn the eternal gratitude of the conference team, and make some friends.
  • Spend less money. The newer, smaller conferences are cheaper, and sometimes even the peripheral expenses are lower since they are held in smaller cities. A hotel room in Greensboro, NC is much more affordable than one in New York City. And do I need to mention food costs? At a small conference in Portland, I had the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich for lunch from a food truck. Cheap and mind-blowingly delicious.

Are you ready to pack your bags? What are your favorite smaller conferences?

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee


Business Success: Power of Negative Thinking?

By Deb Bixler

If you are looking for home business success, then you start to realize that there is power in everything. People believe in the power of positive thinking and everyone understands that knowledge is power. But would you believe it if you were told that there is power in negative thinking as well?

To find home business success, you should not dwell on negative thinking for too long. But since it is inevitable that you will come into contact with people who are always looking at the down side of any issue, you should learn how to cultivate the power of negative thinking.

It Forces Alternatives

goals for success

The great thing about people with negative attitudes is that they are always looking for a way for something to fail. Before you roll out an important plan or program that will cost your company a lot of money, give the idea to a negative person. He will start poking holes in the plan and find ways that it will fail. As long as you are taking notes, you will have all of the information you need to find ways to fix the plan or offer alternatives to make the plan stronger.

Negative Thinking VS Positive Thought

Sometimes sharing your thoughts and business success strategies with negative people you will learn how they will be received in the market place.

If you have a marketing plan you are ready to roll out but you are unsure of some of the ideas or theories you have in the plan, then run it by a negative person. If anyone is going to put your theories to the test, it is someone who wants to see them fail.

If your theories and ideas hold up against a negative point of view, then they are very strong.

Success Plan

When you are putting together any kind of business success plan, you always try to consider as many options as possible. Negative people love to turn the presentation of ideas into a game of “I bet you didn’t consider this.” When you spend some time reviewing your plan with a negative person, you will eventually consider all possible options.

It Tests Your Resolve

Nothing tests the resolve of a human being more than the power of negative thinking. Just when you think that you have everything figured out, a negative thinker will find a reason to have you start all over again. If you can stand the kind of scrutiny that comes from a person who is always looking at the world from the negative side, then your resolve is strong enough to succeed.

There is a power to negative thinking that, if harnessed properly, can work to your advantage. You do not want to develop the habit of being someone who is perpetually negative. But if your ideas and plans can withstand the kind of microscopic scrutiny that a negative person will give them, then those plans are ready to become part of your company’s business culture.

Author’s Bio:
Deb Bixler retired from the corporate world using the proven business systems that made her a success working for others by incorporating them into her home business. In only 9 months Deb replaced her full time income with the sales and commissions from her home party plan business. Find her on Twitter at: http://www.Twitter.com/debbixler


What Are Your Assumptions?

By James Ellis

closeup_donkeyPeople don’t read the web, they scan. People don’t like to click. People don’t look past the first four Google search results. People only search Google with 2-3 word search terms. People don’t open their email on the weekends. People don’t spend money online. People don’t trust strangers online. No one cares what you had for breakfast. No one will want to look at a picture of your lunch. People buy most Christmas gifts online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. No one will download a movie to watch on their phone.

All of the above statements were once considered gospel at one time. Gospel. Carved into stone tablets. Given to marketers’ children to recite every morning.

But you should all see at least one statement that you know to be patently false (in fact, I’m pretty sure that they almost all are, depending on circumstances). But they linger on, because they are based on assumptions.

These are just examples of online/web/tech assumptions that linger in the minds of people close to us (especially clients and bosses). There are plenty of business, blogging and personal assumptions we make and live by that simply aren’t true anymore (assuming they ever were).

Assumptions are the blind spots in our vision. We see them without acknowledging them every day. We work around them instead of challenging them, when challenging them is how we create success. Think of Kodak and Poloroid, who assumed we’d always want printed pictures. Think of Ford (circa 2009) who assumed Americans only bought big cars. Think of the music industry, who assumed that we wouldn’t like to download our music whenever we wanted.

Businesses fail every day because their assumptions were wrong. Businesses thrive every day because they took a chance on challenging assumptions. Think of Starbucks, who didn’t listen to the assumptions that people wouldn’t pay $5 for a cup of coffee. Think of Apple, who didn’t listen to the assumption that people didn’t want to check their email every second of the day. Think of Rick Bayless who didm’t listen to the assumption that Mexican food is cheap food.

What are the assumptions you live with every day? Are you challenging them? If you don’t, what happens when someone else does?

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is a digital strategist, mad scientist, lover, fighter, drummer and blogger living in Chicago. You can reach out to him or just argue with his premise at saltlab.com.

Photo credit: Dieter van Baarle, Flickr CC.

Vertical integration and your business

By Katherine Pilnick

You’ve probably heard of vertical integration, a trend to minimize middle-man work and bring products to the marketplace in as few steps as possible, and you may be wondering if it’s right for your business. Vertically integrated companies have control over more than one part of production. They may partner with companies that work with the product before or after them, or they may take care of more than one step of the process in-house.

Vertical integration gives manufacturers more control over their products, including reducing costs. Customers also benefit, as they can discover otherwise lost local business and may enjoy price cuts because of lowered production costs. However, vertical integration isn’t always the best option, and its effects should be considered for each unique set of circumstances.

Vertical Integration in Modern Markets

One of the most prominent examples of vertical integration is Apple, which designs and develops the hardware and software for all its products, and also puts out the final products. While specific parts of production may be outsourced, Apple’s overall vertical integration gives the company more control over its product. It also ensures that the company has unique products that customers cannot find elsewhere.

Amazon is another well-known example of vertical integration. Its online marketplace and its Kindle products act as book distributors, and the company has evolved to publish books, as well. In this way, it took over another piece of the production line.

Amazon and Apple are prime examples of companies that have become significantly more involved in their product lines than is typical at other companies.

Choosing to vertically integrate your business is a big decision, and one which involves a lot of thought. It requires access to resources that small startups often lack, but it expands opportunities for future growth and success.

The main advantage of a vertically integrated business is that it will make your product unique, so that no other company can offer exactly what you have to offer. That way, you can build a loyal customer base as your company grows.

Despite its pros, vertical integration won’t help every company, especially one that’s already on thin ice financially.

Key Considerations

Vertical integration requires a company to take on new responsibilities in production. While this can save money for business in the long run, it requires an immediate financial investment to pay for additional equipment and labor.

Likewise, entrepreneurs must be careful that vertical integration does not spread the company’s resources too thin. The company must set its priorities and stick with them, without allowing its new responsibilities to take over the core business goals.

Unless your business is already hugely successful, you’ll have to determine if vertical integration is right for your particular scenario by weighing the pros and cons.

Discuss it with others at your company to gauge how willing they are to take on the risk and responsibility. You can also seek professional advice at a bank, since the new endeavor is likely to require a small business loan. And remember that there is no need to rush the decision. In most cases, the opportunity to expand will always be there. If you don’t take advantage of it now, you can change your mind in the future.

Author’s Bio: Katherine Pilnick is a writer, blogger and editor for Debt.org, a debt help website.

The Necessity of Frustration

Paintbrushes
Without doubt, no breakthrough

by Ric Dragon

Big Doubt, Little Doubt

Beginnings are typically joyous, euphoric occasions. Whether it’s a software project, a barn-raising, a romance, or a painting, the earliest stages are exciting, not yet informed by the difficulties that lie ahead.

The art of making paintings is remarkable. It doesn’t matter if the painter is portraying mountains and streams, or is creating an abstraction. Taking the three-dimensional world and portraying it on a flat surface is abstraction, and creating shapes and color is quite concrete and real. So it follows that a lot of the distinctions that are made about painting – whether it’s realism, abstraction, or some other genre – are somewhat moot. But what all painting shares is that there is no guidebook. Each painter is on their own in trying to figure out what it is all about.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that I look forward to starting paintings. The canvas, newly tacked over the stretcher bars, presents a vast area of whiteness. A brush loaded with paint is picked up – and that first mark is made. It’s exhilarating.

I also know what to expect about a third of the way into the painting: frustration. In those early years, it was unnerving: I’d be wracked with feelings of doubt and inability. Like an arctic explorer without a compass, I’d look around and realize that I didn’t have a clue as to where I was or why I was there. These aren’t the little niggling doubts that sometimes come to haunt us, but the big doubts. What does my existence mean?

For hundreds of years, practitioners of Zen Buddhism have been using doubt as a key to their practice. In the various approaches to Zen, the feeling of doubt is considered to be critical to finding awareness. In fact, koans, those baffling stories used in zen, seem designed to help bring about that total frustration. As one teacher exhorted, “let all of you become one mass of doubt and questioning.” Without this doubt, you can’t have breakthrough.

Self-doubt can be totally debilitating, too. If you understand, though, the importance of doubt in the creative process, you can more easily say to yourself, “heh, this is all part of the process – let’s just go with it.”

Happy break-through!

—-

Author’s Bio: Ric Dragon is the founder and CEO of DragonSearch, a digital marketing agency with offices in Manhattan and Kingston, NY. Dragon is the author of the “DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual” and “Social Marketology” (McGraw Hill; June 2012), and has been a featured speaker at SMX East, Conversion Conf, CMS Expo, and BlogWorld, on the convergence of process, information architecture, SEO, and Social Media. You can find Ric on Twitter as @RicDragon.

 

Image: John-Morgan, Flickr Creative Commons License.

Grafetee’s Watching You … Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

by
Mihaela Lica Butler

Street Smarts: The Police Get Grafetee

That the police are testing a location-based app called Grafetee may not necessarily have criminals fleeing in fear, but the idea of a country’s national police turning to mobile tools is noted. The Poliisi, as Finland’s top law enforcement arm is called there, intend on making neighborhoods safer via smart device usage, social media engagement and interactive maps.

Finland. Most of you, readers, will probably identify this Scandinavian country as way up in the far frozen North and a bit too far away to consider public safety moves as relevant. But, given the spread of good news and useful things that make life better, it may not be long before your local public servants tune in on using geo-location tools like Grafetee.

For those unfamiliar with the Helsinki startup, and their engaging little social tool, Grafetee makes use of smart technology, via either iOS or Android operating systems, along with map-centric services like Foursquare, Wikipedia, and even Yelp of late. What does the PoPo up there in Finland want with such a tool, you ask? They are trying to make Finland safer than it already is. Petri

Marjamaa from the National Police Board commented about the adaptation:

“We are adopting Grafetee to test how a social media service is applicable to make the neighborhood safer and to help residents to influence their own neighborhood’s safety.”

Grafetee’s Watching You … Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

Grafetee being used by law enforcement in Finland is not the first time a mobile or social tool has been adopted to improve things, but the App does have some unique features which make this story more interesting. The Poliisi can use Grafetee’s characteristic location-based interactive map, and particularly the notification and bookmarking aspects, for getting information about crime, traffic hazards, and especially for being there when urgency and accuracy of detail counts. Short story here being, Grafetee’s interactive map operates in “real time” – and users (citizens) can add images to the locations, describe what happens, share with others anonymously if desired, and so much more.

That’s because anyone can use Grafetee anonymously – no need to sign up or connect a Facebook account. A few taps of the screen and a crime can be reported, or the Police can input data the public needs to know in real time too. Think of all the uses Grafetee users on both ends can squeeze out of a little Finnish smart app.

There’s a mobile version, Android or iOS, and a web version on, lahivinkki.com, for anyone interested in testing the latest version. Also, another aspect of Grafetee’s individuality is the ability for businesses to add their places, events, and even web locations via a browser bookmarklet. On top of the Foursquare, Wikipedia, and Yelp pins you can already use on the map, there are also now many local businesses and even websites tied into the Grafetee way of smart things.

Grafetee, or should that be “Graffiti”, seems like one of those simple little tools that ends up being widely accepted. Just like street artists express themselves via murals, now everyone can put a name on just about anything, even a potential crime. Let’s see how fast other government agencies and businesses hop on board with special uses. Interesting stuff, huh?

Author’s Bio:
Mihaela “Mig” Lica Butler founded Pamil Visions in 2005 where she uses her hard won journalistic, SEO and public relations skills toward helping small companies navigate the digital realm with influence and success. Grafetee is a client. You can find Mig on Twitter as @PamilVisions


How Artists’ Games Can Help Our Work

by
Ric Dragon

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The Games Artists Play

In his earlier days, the artist Chuck Close was a painter of gestural abstractions. After a personal crisis, he decided to take photographs, and square inch by square inch, make a large painting of the photograph. The process, to Close, was a game of sorts. If you get the opportunity to see one of his large scale paintings in a museum, the results are quite staggering.

Artists like to play games within their work. After all, there is no rule book on how to make a piece of art. Instead, you have total and absolute freedom. You can do anything you want – a freedom which can actually be paralyzing. Thus, by creating little games, the artist has a self-imposed framework in which to work.

My own game is to paint alla prima – which means at first attempt, and to paint all wet-into-wet; never onto dry paint. While I’ve found a way to keep my own paintings wet for weeks, and thus to sustain the game over a longer period of time, the historical idea of an alla prima painting, like those of the impressionists, was to create a painting in one sitting.

This is hardly a constraint taken on by all painters. In fact, Monet said something to the effect that you’re not worth your salt as a painter if you couldn’t put a painting away for a couple of months, come back to it, and not see what it needed. Bonnard was said to sneak into museums with a brush and colors under his coat to touch up his own paintings.

How Artists’ Games Can Help Our Work

Reworking a piece over a long period of time can certainly bring richness to any work. It’s over time that we are able to reinforce subtle patterns, or refine smaller ideas within the larger piece. But sometimes, it’s difficult to let go of a piece. Our anxiety about getting it right takes over.

The idea, though, of saying that a painting, or even a piece of writing, is going to be done in one period of time – that I’ll do the best I can NOW, and that I’ll do this and move on to the next – can mitigate compulsiveness. We can bring this idea to writing too – I’ll write a piece – but after I’m done, I’m done. No going back and improving. Blogging is ideal for this – after all, changing a post after it’s been published, and after people have participated in the piece by commenting just doesn’t feel right.

If you find yourself stuck in your endeavors, and unable to break through some invisible barrier, try creating your own parameters and games. After all, it’s your game, and there’s not a person in the world who can say that it’s wrong.

—-

Author’s Bio:
Ric Dragon is the founder and CEO of DragonSearch, a digital marketing agency with offices in Manhattan and Kingston, NY. Dragon is the author of the “DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual” and “Social Marketology” (McGraw Hill; June 2012), and has been a featured speaker at SMX East, Conversion Conf, CMS Expo, and BlogWorld, on the convergence of process, information architecture, SEO, and Social Media. You can find Ric on Twitter as @RicDragon.