4 stages of creativity: why the best blog writers stop first

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Published Oct 08, 2015 | Written by Jeremy Knight

Content never sleeps. In a 24/7, global world, it’s always at work, drawing in people who are looking to solve their problems or find solutions for their needs. But that doesn’t mean you need to have your nose to the grindstone at all times.

In fact, the best blog writers give their work room to grow and mature. That means taking a step back and returning to posts later.

This approach may seem counter-intuitive when you’ve got a lot to do. Why put something off when you can get it completed now?

But creating great content should not be rushed. If we want to deliver real value to our audience and, ultimately turn them into customers, we need to take our time.

The Four Stages of Creativity

In 1926, Graham Wallas, an English, social psychologist and co-founder of the London School of Economics, published The Art of Thought. In it, he outlined a model for the creative process that an individual goes through when faced with a task or problem.

The model consists of four stages:

  1. Preparation - gather ideas and decide how you will address the problem or task.
  2. Incubation - take a break from the problem or task, to allow your thoughts to develop.
  3. Illumination - put into practice the insights you have discovered.
  4. Verification - finalise your ideas; complete the task or solve the problem. 

Prolific blogger Maria Popova provides a more detailed synopsis of Wallas’ model

So how can we implement these ideas to improve our B2B blog writing? 

1. Preparation: Draw up an editorial calendar 

If you know what topics you are covering each week - or each month - you won’t end up writing from a standing start.

It’s worthwhile gathering your team together at regular intervals to brainstorm ideas and decide when and how you will address them.

Say you are responsible for writing one blog post a month. In the weeks beforehand, you could research the topic in between other projects you are working on, bookmarking relevant articles and noting down important points. This method will help you to discover the best angle for your blog post when the time comes to write it.

2. Incubation: Don’t write and publish on the same day

Longer pieces of content, such as eBooks, tend to take longer to complete - but it’s entirely feasible to write a blog post in a couple of hours.

However, it’s worth sleeping on your efforts before hitting publish. Returning to your post after taking a break can help you identify points you’ve missed. And you might find the perfect way to rephrase that clunky introductory paragraph, or pinpoint an opportunity to use an eye-catching image.

Of course, this approach won’t work in every instance. For example, if there’s a breaking news story related to your industry that your business can capitalise on in a blog post, you will want to publish as soon as possible.

3. Illumination: Channel your inspiration

Taking a break helps you to improve what you’ve already written - and it can also lead to one of those beautiful epiphany moments that take your blog from mediocre to outstanding. 

You can then rework your blog post into a piece of content that better addresses your reader's problem and offers tangible relief to their pain. 

4. Verification: Ask someone else to take a look 

A fresh pair of eyes may spot something you’ve missed. Even if you’ve double-checked and triple-checked your blog post, it can be easy to become inured to typos and minor mistakes. For example, you may have glazed over the word “form” when you meant “from”, or that you forgot to clarify that tricky sentence in one of the middle paragraphs.

Perhaps you have an in-house content editor. Otherwise, why not ask a colleague to review your work before you show it to your audience. In this way, you can ensure that your blog post is up to the standard it should be.

These are just some suggestions for putting Wallas' model into practice. They are by no means exhaustive, but they certainly show why creating a bit of distance between you and your B2B blog writing can deliver the results you want. 

Allowing your ideas to mature will lead to more valuable content and ensure that you form the essential connections you are seeking. 

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Published by Jeremy Knight October 8, 2015
Jeremy Knight