The Most Powerful Question Content Creators Can Ask
Welcome to the Content Creator’s Toolbox, our series dedicated to helping all creators of all types of content keep those creative juices flowing. If you have a creativity question or challenge you’d like us to address in a future post, drop us a line!
No, it’s not major, heavy-duty, let’s-resolve-these-daddy-issues-before-you-climb-up-into-a-bell-tower-with-a-rifle therapy … more of a regular tune-up, a chance to put the ol’ mind and spirit up on the rack and see if there’s anything that could use a tweak.
Often I’ll be sitting in a session describing something to my therapist—an event, a feeling, a thought—and after giving some initial feedback, she’ll ask me, “So … what else?“
The first time this happened, it was a bit unsettling. “‘What else?'” I recall thinking.“Whaddya mean ‘what else?’ I’m a very thorough person, and if there had been anything else, I certainy would have told you.” But, as a slave to the authority trigger, I searched my psyche and came up with an additional nugget.
Again, some feedback, followed by “What else?”
And so it went, back and forth, until I finally shrugged and said, “Nothing else I can think of.”
After a few sessions, I started to realize something: After the fourth or fifth round of “what-elsing,” we got to some really good stuff. Amazing insights. Major a-ha moments. Groundbreaking realizations that would never have occurred without the deeper dive.
All from a little two-word question repeated over and over.
Not long after this realization, I found myself stumped for a topic for my next blog post. Every idea emerging from my noggin was either done-to-death or so obscure that it would resonate with no one.
And then I remembered “What else?”
And a funny thing happened. As I went down that list of horrid ideas, applying the “What else?” approach to each one, my ugly ducklings began to turn into swans.
So, needless to say, the “What else?” game has become a regular part of my ideastorming process.
How Does It Work?
Let’s take a hypothetical situation: Say you own a garden shop and are desperate for a topic for your next e-newsletter article …
Original idea: “OK, we’re almost into June, so let’s write something about summer.” (Yawn.)
What goes on in summer? “It gets hot.”
What else? “People go on vacation.”
What else? “The kids are out of school.”
What else? “Kids get bored when they’re out of school.”
What else? “Moms get desperate for ways to entertain their kids while they’re out of school.”
What else? “How about an article with fun ideas for family gardening projects to entertain the kids this summer?”
Dingdingdingdingdingdiiiiiiing! Not only do you have an interesting topic, but it’s also one that might interest mommy bloggers and parenting blogs. Not bad for an idea that started off as “write something about summer,” huh?
One final tip: This approach works fine as a purely mental exercise, something to mull over while you’re, say, sitting in traffic, but I find it’s infinitely more powerful when you do it with pen and paper or on a whiteboard.
The next time you set out to generate some ideas for your brilliant content …
- Come up with an initial list of ideas—no judgment, just make a list of every idea that pops into your noggin.
- Go through each item and start asking “What else?” Go through at least three or four rounds for each idea.
- Watch what unfolds.
Give it a try and let us know how it went in the Comments—we’d love to hear from you!
Each Friday, we deliver a simple but impactful tip to boost your mojo on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social networks.
About the Author
A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).
As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations. Contact Rachel about speaking to your group or business.
See you again next week!