When you sit down to write, keep in mind that your
immediate goal is not to pen an article, column,
podcast, blog post, video clip, chapter of a book
or segment of your speech. Simply write a module,
which is “an uncategorized chunk of creative material.” Modular thinking works because it:
• Detaches from outcomes. It keeps you focused on
the writing process, not what the writing produces.
• Helps you capture everything. All that matters is
that you get it down on paper because if you don’t
write it down, it never happened!
• Prevents premature cognitive commitment.
Hastily classifying, categorizing and labeling your
pieces will only slow you down. It’s just a module,
not a big deal. It might be great; it might not.
• Keeps your creative process open-ended.
Modules are created within an unfinished open
loop. It’s like Van Gogh once said, “Good art is
• Allows you to work on multiple projects simultaneously. You can build thought bridges, subconscious connections and integrations between
seemingly unrelated ideas. As a result, you will automatically notice natural relationships and structures
in your writing.
Ideas are your major source
of income. As such, you
need to become a master of
entertaining those ideas.
• Matches (and leverages) the way your mind
works. After you’ve accumulated several modules
over time, you can go back and look for emerging
patterns, trends and categories, as opposed to forcing them at the onset. This “distributive cognition”
is the best way to collect all of your open loops and
put things into objective, reviewable formats.
• Is easy to edit. Once everything is in module
form, it is much quicker and easier to add or subtract chunks of creative material.
• Simplifies content management. After your
modules are in place, completing larger projects is
a breeze. All you have to do is choose, organize and
connect existing modules that you’ve already written and stored.
• Contributes to your body of work. Working on
dozens (if not hundreds!) of small modules eventually will add up and contribute to your “body of
work.” This ever-expanding chronicle will become
the true mark of your writing greatness.
Entertain Your Ideas
Ideas are your major source of income. As such,
you need to become a master of entertaining those
ideas. Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an edu-
cated mind to be able to entertain a thought with-
out accepting it.” I’ve been using
this step-by-step process, which
has enabled me to write more
than a thousand articles and
eight books since I started my
company in 2002:
1. Write it down. Start a new
blank document. Put your idea—
or the key point of your idea—at
the top of the page.
. Save. Make this phrase
(from Step 1 above) your file
name. Save it in a folder called
“Ideas,” “Brainstorms” or
. Start with a list. Write a bul-let-point list of everything you
know, every question you have,
and every example you can think
of that relates to your idea. Pick
your brain until you have nothing left.
. Search. Spend a few minutes on Google. Find out what
else has been thought, written
and said about your idea. Check
out blogs, articles, and Wikipedia
for verification. Also, hop on