500 Words a Day Challenge

Creativity Journal

Keeping on the theme of it being a new year, I’ve decided to join hundreds of other writers in a 31 day writing challenge. This is my first entry, and as I think about what I hope to get out of this stretching exercise, I can’t help but think about my 2013 stretching exercise (now an ongoing habit).

But, before I tell you about last year’s stretching exercise, I’ll let Jeff Goins (the instigator) describe the 2014 “500 Words” 31 day challenge.

My 500 Words is a 31-day challenge designed to help you develop a daily writing habit and become a better writer.

For the next 31 days, we’ll be writing 500 words a day. These won’t be great words, but they will be written. We’re not trying to reach perfection; we’re just trying to get more ideas out of our heads and onto paper.

And if you want to be part of this, we can keep each other company.

I’ve been writing for over 10 years, but the one thing I’ve been lacking is consistency. So, my hope and desire is that this exercise will improve my writing muscles. I am also looking forward to seeing if there is a theme or topic that rises above the rest for me to further focus on.

Last year, I started a new habit to foster and improve my creativity and new concept development skills. My hope is that kicking of a new habit of writing on a daily basis will afford me some of the same benefits I have gotten from doing my “creativity journaling”.

Last Year’s Stretching Exercise

Many people mistakenly think of creativity as something that just happens to some, but not to others. While some seem to have creativity in more generous amounts, I have come to experience and I believe that creativity is like a muscle — it can be developed and strengthened by just about anyone.

Now, not everyone “creates” in the same medium, but that’s ok. Not all artists are meant to be the same.  But, I digress.

In my case, I started carrying with me a small moleskin journal and a pencil. I make it a rule to always have it with me. I have also made it a rule that if an idea crosses my mind, I will take 1-2 minutes to at least jot down the idea and the basic concept. Here is the important part: all ideas must have originated in my mind.

So, when I think of an idea, I write down what I have. Then, and only then, do I go on Amazon or Google and do a quick search to see if my product concept, or app idea has been done already. Sometimes, someone has already beat me to the punch. So be it–that doesn’t take away that I saw an opportunity and had an idea to solve it.

The creativity exercise is having two effects on me:

Opening My Eyes to Opportunities

First, I am learning to keep my eye opens for user-experience problems or for product innovation opportunities. Good design and good innovation is really a new or better idea that solves for a problem.

Because I’m a digital marketer, I’ve been focusing my idea generation around mobile apps, but I have also documented new business concepts (products or services), some consumer products, and new article concepts.

Confidence and Leadership Skills

Second, having a regular habit of documenting ideas and striving to exercise my creative muscles has improved my confidence, which in turns is improving my leadership skills. When you develop a creativity habit, any problem you face turns into a creativity opportunity. Some will be vastly more challenging than others, of course. But, being able to shift your paradigm and look at business problems as inspirations for creative or innovative solutions is having a big impact on my stress levels at work, on my enjoyment of my day to day job, and on my relationships with co-workers.

In short, it is helping me become more solution-oriented overall. And, who knows what may happen in the future. If the right opportunity presents itself, or when the season is right, I just may go to my “Creativity Journal” and launch a new phase of my career with a jump into entrepreneurship.

31 day 500 Word Writing Challenge

This is going to be my first entry into the 31 day 500 word writing challenge. I look forward to the ideas, and more importantly, I look forward to impacting someone with the thoughts I share.

I consider myself a communicator first and foremost, and in today’s Internet driven world, the written work continues to have a growing importance in all aspects of life. And if a new eBook comes out of it, that would be just gravy. :-)

What about you? How do you express your creativity on a regular basis? What is your medium of preference? I’d love to hear what others do to foster and strengthen their creative juices.

Start-Up Attacks Media Bias

This article covers an interesting new tool that helps users discover media bias.

Users download Spinoculars, a toolbar that sits atop the browser and lets readers know if the story they are reading has any phrases or words that indicate bias. (It works only in Firefox now and will work in Internet Explorer in a couple weeks.) It highlights those phrases in a big red box, and readers can click to find out what exactly SpinSpotter found wrong with the phrase.

The concept is novel, and considering our times, probably something many consumers would love to have. But, I have to say I don’t really see how its going to work. They will have to prove its effective and accurate first.

Desperately wanting to find spin, I went to the Silicon Valley gossip site, Valleywag, which makes no qualms about writing stories with its own snarky spin. Yet calling PR people “the most annoying people in our inbox” did not raise any red flags on SpinSpotter. Writing that Rupert Murdoch is “not going to have any luck recruiting an outsider to fill the spot” of MySpace China chief executive wasn’t spin either.

That is partly because SpinSpotter has started out with very few phrases in its database of spin, said Mr. Herman.

You can learn more about SpinSpotter by visiting their website.

RelevantNoise: Keeping track of the political buzz

I’m a big politics buff, so I thought this article was rather interesting as it brings together my interest in interactive media and the world of politics (and its related to a tool I have used and can recommend).

Bloggers and social media enthusiasts on the Internet have weighed in on the recent McCain – Palin ticket, and the responses have pulled the Republican nominee into a virtual tie with Senator Barack Obama in the blogosphere.

I’ve had the opportunity to test-drive the technology behind this — lots of powerful intelligence and analytic tools to help you interpret the “noise” out there.

…according to RelevantNoise(TM), Zeta Interactive’s technology that mines the Internet’s social media landscape — including over 100 million blogs, as well as countless message boards and online communities — the buzz on the Internet regarding John McCain has skyrocketed by more than 12 percent since the announcement of Palin as his running mate, bringing him virtually even with Obama for the first time in the campaign.

I’m rooting for McCain, and was happy with his pick for VP, so its nice to read the good news. From a political strategy point of view, it seems to me that all the attacks on Sarah Palin is backfiring for the Obama campaign and has them off-message.

Since announcing Palin as his running mate, McCain also has benefitted from an increase in positive posts on the online media landscape. According to RelevantNoise, the number of posts that were determined positive in tone increased from 47 percent in the month prior to announcing his VP to 59 percent positive on the day that McCain named Palin. (Click the URL to see the volume and tonal charts) – http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080903/NYW144

Relevant Noise: Listening to the conversations

I’ve been looking into Zeta Interactive’s RelevantNoise and hope to get a closer look through a demo and maybe a trial run. Having worked in the blog world for several years, I know how powerful it can be to be able to track what bloggers are saying.

Here is how they describe it:

Are your ears ringing? They should be, because someone out there in the social internet – 75 Million blogs, countless message boards and online communities – is probably talking about you. And what they’re saying could make or break your brand or your products.

Think it can’t affect you? You’re wrong. What you don’t know CAN hurt your brand. But knowing – and staying one step ahead of the tide – can empower you to protect your company, clients, products or services.

With Zeta Interactive’s RelevantNoise overview dashboard, you can quickly see what these “citizen journalists” are saying about your brands across social media – and the impact they’re having – in real-time.

I’ll write more once I get a better look at the tool.