3 Simple Strategies to Jumpstart Your Ability to Create Content

According to acclaimed entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, “No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.” As a writer, this advice should be fairly straightforward. In theory this notion should be easy to implement. Practically, life tells us otherwise. At times work and family obligations make it quite difficult to create content.

Creating Content

“I don’t have time” or “I am too tired from work or parenting” are excuses. Valid excuses. But excuses nonetheless. American found Benjamin Franklin professed, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Ouch! His words certainly sound jarring. Sometimes we need to hear that severe truth  to ignite the passion within us.

Coming off a long weekend, I felt the need for a second weekend to recover from my Saturday and Sunday. Again, I am coming up with an excuse. I struggled to develop a topic for content this week. Suddenly, I realized— how about I write about what to do when you struggle with developing content! This post will be centered on three strategies that you can use immediately to jumpstart your ability to create content.

Get Creative

I have learned that value of developing innovative strategies to write. I started The Simple Catholic blog in 2015. Four years’ worth of content! It gets tough to write about things especially when you’ve exhausted a lot of great ideas in the past.

Think Outside the Box

One creative way I learned to develop content is to immediately jot down an idea when it pops into my head. Throughout the day I think about this idea. If it is a fruitful notion, I am able to develop a cohesive and understandable outline to then construct the post when I have time later. Driving, biking, showering, or in between calls at my job are great times for me to ponder and develop these nuggets of information.

Develop Time Savers

Some days I barely have 10 minutes to write. Honestly, these days frustrate me! As a storyteller, I long to have the ability to put down my thoughts, frustrations, joys, happenings, and concerns. Writing is therapeutic. It provides healing when I am distressed. Writing is cathartic—cleansing me of worry, doubt, and irritations. Because writing provides me that important function in my life, I make sure I take at least a little time to write daily.

Time Management

Today  was one of those rushed and packed days. During my job, my phone rang off the hook. I only had 30 seconds between speaking with customers. Along with being, creative, I had to seek ways to make the best use of my time. Below are a list of the best time management practices I have discovered:

  • Utilize outlines to craft the structure of an article
  • Use the voice-to-text function on phone/apps
  • Set a weekly post goal—meet this goal consistently
  • Develop flexibility to work in smaller chunks of time—this is especially key for writers who are also parents!
  • Make time for reflection/mediation
  • Exercise frequently—you will be quite surprised how a short jog or session at the gym will invigorate your mind
  • Set time limits for social media usage

Follow Your Mission Statement

A third strategy to boost your content creation is to write about your passion. What excites you? Which subject could you ad lib for 30 minutes? Why did you originally begin your blog? What motivates your writing?

What is your mission

These questions allow me to get back to the heart of my mission. My Catholic faith is more important to me than anything in this life. Possessing a Master’s degree in Theology and teaching experience provided me the initial foundation for my blog. Along with evangelizing and discovering the joy of the Gospel, I enjoy writing about my other passions as well: exercise, writing, fantasy, and comic books. I find joy in each of these subjects.

Gary Vaynerchuk say that “Passion is contagious.” Zest also leads to a more thriving life! Helping others learn to write and blog drive me to share my best practices. When we share knowledge and experience honestly and without any strings attached we all win. I would love to hear your own struggles and triumphs in the content creating process. Share your best practices in the comments below!

Related Links

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/04/11/5-reasons-why-your-statistics-on-wordpress-do-not-define-you-as-a-blogger/

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/04/01/3-seo-best-practices-to-grow-your-blog-traffic-in-2019/

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2017/11/28/3-ways-to-stay-relevant-as-a-catholic-blogger/

 

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Thank you for sharing!

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1st Podcast Interview Complete! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Good Morning! ☀️

I wanted to share with you something awesome–I was just interviewed for my first ever appearance on a podcast. The topic was on empathy and the importance in the workplace and in evangelization. To see the blog post that inspired this collaboration check out the link in the Related Link section 👇

The Catholic Servant Podcast will air my interview on August 13th. More details to follow in the upcoming weeks.

I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity. I was initially nervous, but I am glad I pushed through my anxiety. I challenge to try something new this upcoming week.

💡Reach out to a fellow blogger, talk with your neighbor across the street, volunteer at a local charity, or anything else that could positively contribute to society and your personal/professional development.

Thank you for your continued support of The Simple Catholic!

Related Link

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/07/01/the-power-of-empathy-2/

Thank you for sharing!

3 Ways Creativity and Collaboration Must be Partners

Helen Keller wrote, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” As a recent Linked user and creative individual, teamwork and content creation has been on the forefront of my mind. My recent post 3 Reasons Why Containing Creativity is Impossible, mentions a bit on the importance of working together with others on a creative project. I wrote, “Whenever I feel my creativity spirit drying up I look to the creative individuals to reignite my creativity.”

Creativity does not occur in a vacuum

Creativity cannot happen in a vacuum. Creating something involves a community. Children are born from the union of mother and father. Houses are built with many individuals. Book projects involve the collaboration of the author, proofreaders, editors, publicists, and marketing teams. This post will focus on three distinct ways creativity and collaboration must be partners.

Humans are Social Creatures

According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Man is by nature a social animal.” Even further back in history, the Bible recognized the importance of communion. God created Eve to be a partner for Adam. Since the inception of humanity, people need others for help and support.

The dictionary defines creativity as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” Every major advancement in human history occurred via the creative endeavor. Such endeavors rarely occur in isolation. A creative idea ultimately serves not only the originator, but the betterment of society as a whole.

Creativity Gets Multiplied Never Divided

Tennis legend Althea Gibson stated, “No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” Creativity never loses momentum. Collaborating on an idea or invention does not reduce creativity. Collaboration enhances creativity. More minds working together multiplies creativity.

Seeing collaboration occur professionally on LinkedIn or in the domestic setting of the family unit is exciting. Henry Ford spoke of working together in this way, “”Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” The interactions between entrepreneurs and family members displays the multiplication of creativity. For instance, my oldest son just got into Pokémon (the inner geek in me is so proud!) “Avila can be the ground Pokémon and we can be the Pokémon Masters!” declared my older two kids as they plotted their latest fictional safari. Seeing the joy glint from their eyes truly warms my heart.  Sibling success— for the moment!

Marketplace of Ideas

Marketplace of Ideas

The late innovator and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” In a sense, great ideas are found instead of created. When asked about his legendary fiction world of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien shrugged off the idea of him being this creative genius. He merely “discovered” a world waiting to be found.

Collaboration and creativity create a marketplace of ideas. The information boom developed since the inception of the internet as not only made information more accessible to more people, but also allows more people to interact. Sharing information on social media is not only good, but essential moving forward. According to Bertrand Russell, “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” The age of ruthless competition is over. Collaboration connects humanity. Collaboration leads to more minds reflecting on the major issues we face as a human race. Creativity flows in that marketplace of ideas.

Start Collaborating Now!

Collaboration and Creativity

Never be afraid to ask for help to jump-start your creativity. Creativity does not exist in a singular mind. Every creative endeavor requires the close partnership of collaboration. The social aspect of humanity, multiplication of imagination, and great opportunity to participate in the marketplace of ideas show the necessity for cooperation in the modern world and creating content.

I am blessed to live in this information and collaborative time in human history. I challenge you to reach out to someone this month and collaborate on a project: a blog post, an article, podcast, or video. Share your past collaborative endeavors in the comments. I would love you hear about the fruits and creativity born from your collaborations!

Related Link

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/06/25/3-reasons-why-containing-creativity-is-impossible/

Thank you for sharing!

2019 Mid-Year Blog Update

Wow! Time definitely flies. I cannot believe we are already halfway through 2019. I wanted to briefly touch base on my progress and future goals for The Simple Catholic blog. 

Time flies

While I accomplished and learned many things this past year, more importantly I want to first thank you for all your support. Thank you for reading, sharing, visiting, commenting, or providing me advice over the past year! I cannot thank you enough. I am humbled by your support. 🙏

Thank you

Over the past year I have made steady progress—growing viewship every month since January.  In June, I had over 2,000 views—including making the first page for Google for the long tail keyword phrase of “Corpus Christ feast day quotes.

Along with my previous monthly contributions to EpicPew.com and serving as a Managing Editor for Catholicstand.com, I was graced with the opportunities to write/contribute to Voyage Comics and Catholic Exchange–both publications on my writing ✍️ bucket-list.

Guest post

Another major breakthrough for my blog was my ability and commitment to have guest posts from other talented Catholic writers. My goal for the second half of 2019 is to have at least one guest post published a week. If you are an established writer or beginning blogger please reach out to me. I would love to have a conversation about your goals as a writer and want to help you in any way I can.

Thank you Dwight gif

Thank you again for your supporting The Simple Catholic blog! I am excited for the next six months and beyond. If you have any questions about Catholicism or comic books (I currently binge read at least 10 a week! 🙂) comment on a post or contact me on the Contact page. Hope you had a blessed 1st half of 2019 and I hope last half of the year treats you even better.

Thank you for sharing!

3 Reasons Why Containing Creativity is Impossible

Creativity

Mark Twain wrote, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Recently, the “greatest American humorist” has showed up in a lot of my posts. His wit and eccentricity defy convention.  Boundless creativity define Twain and other classic writers.

Is this it in Life?

Sitting in my cubicle at my bank job got me thinking quite seriously about creativity, self-reflection, and life in general. During a long span between inbound calls, I gazed across the floor and noticed something—more accurately the absence of something. Perhaps it is the drudgery work, but I realized, my job does not reward creativity. Compliance, uniformity, and procedural elements dominate the world of finance. “Is this what life is truly meant to be?” I pondered.

Instructed to work within the limits of law, policy, and procedure, I learned that I cannot be free to create—new ideas, content, strategies, or even share best practices. Although I enjoy order, working in a solely unimaginative environment stymies my creative side. Along with my desire to evangelize and educate others on the Catholic faith, my primary motivation for writing was to satiate my creative thirst. Creativity cannot be contained. It may be limited and temporarily tempered, but it can never be truly contained.

Uniqueness Defeats Conformity

Uniqueness

Influenced by my faith and personal experience as a father to special needs children, I place high value toward individuality. My sons require an individualized education plan (IEP) to best succeed in school. Human beings are not meant to be uniform. We should celebrate our differences, strengths and limitations all together! Authentic diversity actually leads to true unity. This is best summed up in the Catholic Church.

St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the importance of the uniqueness of the Body of Christ. United by Christ the diversity of the members is graced with the ability to work for the greater good.

Beyond Limits

Limitless gif

Another reason that containing creativity is impossible is because creation by its nature is limitless. French philosopher Albert Camus purported, “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” Creating art, language, music, and technology starts with the mentality of the limitless. The greatest act of creation, that formation of the Universe via the Big Bang, seems absurd. Creation out of nothing. Genesis 1 tells us  God created the formed the universe ex nihilo!

The Supreme Creator God definitely cannot be contained or limited. That would be contrary to God’s nature. However, that is a grandiose example of creativity. Even on a lesser scale, creation cannot be bound. My 5 year old daughter uses her imaginative and sees beyond the ordinary in everything. A rock becomes a “piece of chocolate”. Cardboard boxes become animals. Sticks become “silverware”. Pages and pages of drawings populate our kitchen table, bookshelves, and dresser tops. Maya Angelou describes the limitless nature of creativity perfectly when she said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Creativity Attracts

Creativity is Contagious, Pass it On

Along with the unique and boundless quality of creativity a third reason why imagination cannot be contained is due it is spread so easily. According to Albert Einstein, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” Opposites attract. Creativity attracts exponentially more! Great imaginative minds never exist on their own. J.R.R. Tolkien attracted C.S. Lewis and vice versa.

Together they transformed literature in the 20th century. John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborated to bring the world amazing music. The Wright brothers worked together to innovate transportation by developing the first airplane.

Whenever I feel my creativity spirit drying up I look to the creative individuals to reignite my creativity. Reading Tolkien, Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and the doctors of the Church such as Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila brings forth creativity. Creativity elicits more creativity.

If you are a writer stuck in an imaginative idleness, please don’t despair. It is natural to experience periods of droughts, but creativity is never truly lost or fully contained. Seek out other creative individuals (both past and present) and learn from their works. Creativity lead to creativity. Embrace your uniqueness. Don’t try to be anyone else expect yourself. You have a 100% monopoly on being you—let this be your advantage!

Thank you for sharing!

Waiting for the One

The sleek shadowy black corvette ahead of me roared its engine. This sudden sound caused my dropping eyelids to pop open. Peering around me I noticed the grey dreary sky adorned with ominous clouds. Fresh precipitation remained on the ground. The scent of a fresh rainfall 🌧 lingered. 

While some people lament about the weather this day, I wait, in joyful anticipation, for the cloudy ☁️ doldrums. After what seemed like an eternity, the sports car moved forward. Inching forward, another aroma mixed with the dewy scent. A sweet, yet bitter smell engaged my olfactory sense. 

Waiting. Has time actually stood still? The longing persists. It is difficult to wait any longer. Five minutes has passed. Will another five or 500 pass before I acquire this liquid gold?

Thank goodness! 🙌 The roar of the ebony corvette wakens me again. Looking up out the paned window I notice my time has arrived. Waiting. Waiting all too long.

Finally, I am met with those beautiful words—“Here is your one large coffee ☕️ !”

Thank you for sharing!

Facts from a Whimsical Wednesday

Disclaimer: There is a sixth dimension that oftentimes interacts with mankind. It enters time and space unexpectedly and usually leads to mirth. Sometimes provoked by science, other times by faith, these experiences usually arrive in the mundane. This is the dimension of imagination. It is what I call…the Whimsical Zone!


Mark Twain wrote, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” I am naturally a worrier. Anxiety cripples me during a stressful or confusing day at work or home. Pulling yourself out of fretfulness is like attempting to pull yourself out of a deep hole covered in ice—it just does not work. Earlier this week, I encountered a series of unexpected whimsical moments that elicited joy. I have written a few times on my encounters with the whimsical, capricious things that uplift my spirits. Most peculiarly, and alliteratively, these encounters with the jovial occur on Wednesdays!

Spot the Spot

Last Wednesday morning, I was reading Daredevil #23 when my three year-old crawled onto my lap to look at the pictures. Looking at the villain, Spot, he exclaimed and pointed to the white and black dotted figure, “Daddy, look a firetruck (dog)!” I suddenly busted out laughing and the grin on my face remained for at least 5 minutes! I immediately woke up my wife and told her.

My son thoroughly enjoys toy cars, especially fire engines. His penchant for pups stems from his obsessive watching of PawPatrol and his favorite character is a Dalmatian named Marshall. If you are a comic book geek like myself or simply are curious about this spotty villain Spot I will tell you this—his superpowers involve an ability to create portals that lead to an alternate dimension and instantly cross short distances. How cool is that?!

Nuts about Nutty Bars

Another whimsical wonder I witnessed this Wednesday occurred on the drive to work. I noticed a Little Debbie truck ahead of me in the left lane.  I was a bit irritated because I was running late and the vehicle acted like the speed limit was under 20 mph. Switching lanes, I zoomed past it. I noticed the right side of the truck adorned with a picture of my favorite Little Debbie product—Nutty Bars. It took me a moment to realize that the truck’s wall read Nutty Bars instead of Nutty Buddy (a fairly recent name switch I was not happy with). This simple reminder of my favorite childhood snack instantly dispelled my annoyance.

What’s in a name?

St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world.” Humility cures pride—the source of all evil and root of daily annoyances or irritations. Something minor, now in hindsight I recognize it to be little, that used to bother me was when people messed up my name calling me Michael instead of Matthew. This somewhat common occurrence happened to me again today. This time instead of finding it annoying I found a certain levity in the situation. I simply replied back with a happy face emoji! I am grateful to have grown in humility and learned to find the whimsical in a former annoyance.

Fanny pack Fanatic

American film director Terrence Malick declared, “Nostalgia is a powerful feeling; it can drown out anything.” Growing up in the 90s, many things lately have triggered my nostalgia—Pokémon, the N64, the carbonated drink Surge (yes I heard a reference to that the other day!), and revamped Disney movies. Arguably no item exemplifies the 90s culture, especially the corniness of it, as the fanny pack!

I received a text from my wife telling me of something epic she witnessed. I immediately called her back expecting to hear a milestone accomplishment from our baby or a funny thing our other kids said. “Matt, I just saw a lady at Walmart with a legit fanny pack!” she giggled over the phone.  As a fan of organization, corniness, and nostalgia her news added to my whimsical Wednesday.

If you are experiencing a dull, dreary, or a Debbie-downer type of day please don’t lose hope. Always be on the lookout for the ordinary, yet quirky happenings around you. You don’t need something extravagant to turn your attitude around. Ask for the gift of humility from the Holy Spirit and keep your eyes peeled for the hilariously mundane.

Thank you for sharing!