Distractions: The Junk Food of Creativity

IMAG0588Are you a consumer or a creator?

It’s a question that I ask myself during those all-too-frequent occasions when I find myself plunging into consumer mode. Make no doubt, there are times to consume—to read the news, to become engrossed in a video clip of David Bowie’s prescient insights on the Internet’s impact on music, to see what’s going in the lives of a few (or a few dozen) of my friends’ lives.

However, the temptation to have those times get so out of hand that they crowd out creative time is omnipresent. Do I have enough discernment to know what’s useful research into something that will advance my business—whether my own enterprises or a client’s—and what’s a flat-out distraction?

Distractions are the junk food of creativity. I can delude myself into thinking I am setting the stage for creativity by diving into the lyrics of a Squeeze song. A nostalgic baseball website can bring the 1981 American League baseball season to mind, and I can find stats from the season in a few quick clicks.

Just because I can do something, however, doesn’t mean that I should. Just because I can get sucked into rabbit holes that pop up in my cyber-path on a routine basis doesn’t mean that I have to succumb.

It’s so much easier to consume content than to create it, which is why the ratio of consumption to creation is so staggeringly high. But the one who consistently creates, that’s where so many of the rewards reside, whether financial or soulful, whether looking to expand your income or your influence, or for any number of motives.

So turn off the beeps and the bells, shut down your email for a few minutes (or better yet, a few hours), click out of your multiple web browsers, and starve the consumer in you.

This will nurture an environment of creativity. Stop consuming this moment, right now. Go create.

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Content Creation: A Foundational Element in Fueling Your Public Relations Effort

Travis Slaby, founder of ARIS at home

“Content creation.”

It’s a term that I never heard, or used, during my years as a journalist. But it’s become an almost-daily phrase in my vocabulary as I help organizations tell their stories. The creation of content–often, in the form of stories that accentuate someone’s expertise and knowledge–is a foundational element in most any public relations initiative.

Over the past few months, content creation has been at the heart of my work with ARIS at home, an in-home care service provider based in Oak Park. The work has come in close collaboration with ARIS founder and president Travis Slaby and Ryan Backer, the agency’s relationship manager.

Travis has provided the big picture of which ARIS facets he wants to publicize, while Ryan has been in charge of the nitty-gritty of developing blog posts that we will be re-purposing as news releases and other communication pieces.

As even professional writers will tell you, the act of writing really well ain’t easy. But it’s very much worth it, in large part because of the chain of events it can spur on. For example, in October, Ryan wrapped up a blog post on traveling with seniors. As the holidays approach, we agreed that it made sense to tailor the piece with a mention of the holidays. Doing so gives currency to the content.

Over the past few days, that has resulted in exposure on several websites, including this TribLocal post, Oak Park In-Home Care Expert Offers Holiday Travel Tips for Seniors.

But it would have been a missed opportunity if Ryan had not rolled up his sleeves, engaged in some extensive brainstorming to consider what topics were most important to convey, and then done the persevering work of turning those broad brush strokes into cohesive pieces of communication.

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