Below I will teach you what a “List of 10” is and how I use it everyday to help me blog and post on LinkedIn.
In addition to performing for clients who ask for some of our corporate entertainment offerings, I have also written many comedic sketches and put them up on stages all over. There are many different ways to generate ideas. Sometimes ideas just pop in my head and then I can start writing, but sometimes I need to dig to continuously come up with unique and creative content.
If you’ve ever tried blogging or posting on LinkedIn consistently, you know it’s hard. One idea? Sure. Two ideas? No problem. But every week? Every day? It is hard to think of new ideas. The good news is there are an infinite number of topics you could post about, and I am going to help you figure out how to find those new ideas.
(Founder and CEO of Knuckleball Comedy, Ethan Blumenthal, facilitates a leadership workshop for Youth Guidance in Chicago)
We call it “Lists of 10.”
If I started writing a comedic sketch like they do on Saturday Night Live, if I didn’t already have an idea, I might start with a few simple lists of 10. I’d start with two lists, one is “Locations” and one is “Careers/Jobs.” The key is to not think too hard about 10 perfect locations or 10 perfect Careers/Jobs. The key is to put pen to paper (or however computers work) and just get them done and see what happens. Check out my two lists below.
My uncles kitchen
A garbage dump
A broken elevator
A pizza stand
Bankrupt Toy Store
Table store owner
Real estate agent for dog homes
I promise those two lists took me 20 seconds each to make. I didn’t think too hard, whatever came to my head, I put down on paper. There are no wrong answers, only ideas that might lead to other ideas that might help us with whatever problem we are trying to solve.
If I were writing a sketch, I would now look at those two lists and pick out a few combinations that I think might make for a fun premise for a sketch. For example, looking above, I think a Real Estate agent for dog homes in a broken elevator would be a great premise or maybe a shoe shiner at Enron headquarters.
If I had just sat down and stared at a screen and tried to come up with ideas, I never would have come up with that. But once I just started throwing down ideas as fast as I could, I let my imagination roam free and out popped a few funny sketch ideas.
You can use this same concept to write your next blog or social media post or anything else you might have to write for work. When I write a blog, I sometimes begin with a list of 10 about what I am somewhat of an expert in and perhaps I can offer value to my followers. So that’s one list, “What I can offer.”.
What I can offer/things I can offer my followers value in:
Performing and speaking
Running a business from scratch
Health and working out
You could make another list if you wanted, perhaps something like “Things I’ve done recently” and maybe something that you’ve done makes you think of a unique experience or story worth sharing. You could make a list of 10 “People or things that inspire me” and that could be worth sharing. For now I am going to stick with the one list of 10 I made.
Just in that single list of 10 I am already thinking about new blog ideas. I can write a post titled, “5 things I’ve learned after running my own business for 5 years”. Or I could write one titled, “Staying motivated is hard, here are my tactics.” Or I could write one titled “How fitness and sports help me focus while I work.”
The ideas are all floating around somewhere in my head. But I use the lists of 10 to force myself to take as many ideas wandering in my head and onto a piece of paper.
When I facilitate my Knuckleball Comedy team building, leadership and professional development workshops, I always preach that we write down #7, not because #7 will solve the problem we are working on or be the topic we want to blog about next, but because when we write down #7, that will make us think of #8, and that’s the one that solves our problem and that’s the one that is the perfect topic for our next blog.
Don’t spend your time staring at a screen trying to think of perfect ideas.
Spend your time writing imperfect ideas down so that the perfect idea just ends up on your paper and that’s the one that will help you solve whatever problem you’re having.