Ten Tactics to Generate Multiple Articles and Thousands of Words By Reading One Book
Just be curious
Curiosity and the Dizzying Effects of Brain Buzz
I have trouble sleeping sometimes because my brain buzzes.
You know what I mean?
Those nights when you wake up, words circling around each other, tumbling from one thought to the next, ideas looping around and around in your head making you dizzy with the vast and unlimited potential of words?
That’s “brain buzz,” and it can be one of a writer’s most potent assets, making sure that you never run out of things to write.
Because one idea always leads to another…and another…and another.
You will never lack for ideas if you are curious. Just follow the looping, meandering trail of places that your brain will lead you if you let it.
Here are ten tactics to get multiple articles and thousands of words of content from each book you read.
How Reading One Book Started a Chain of Articles
The beginning of my brain buzz started out simply enough. (Sort of like getting an ice cream headache when the first lick leads to ravenous slurping.) I was reading the book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci which outlines seven steps to enhance creative thinking.
There is not one field, industry, or profession on the face of this earth that doesn’t benefit from the spark of creativity, so I was already hooked on the concept and wanted to share what I’d learned. Michael J. Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci inspired me.
I took the basic idea of the book, how to be creative, and narrowed its focus.
1) Narrow the Perspective: Creativity for Writers
Surely, other writers like me would benefit from knowing what one of the greatest geniuses of the world believed enhanced creativity. I finished reading the book, researched the facts, and wrote, “What Writers Can Learn from Leonardo da Vinci.”
2) Broaden the Perspective: Creativity for Everyone
One idea leads to another. The first article focused on writers learning from da Vinci, and there was so much more in that book that I wanted to share.
The next article came from broadening the perspective and generating a piece that applied to everyone, no matter what profession they pursued.
3) Pick One Idea and Research It
The author, Michael J. Gelb, made a comment in the book that piqued my interest. In one single sentence, Gelb mentioned that one of the reasons the Renaissance occurred was because of the creation of the pencil, that simple tool that made knowledge accessible to the common man.
“Interesting idea,” I wrote in the margins of my book, “Never thought of that before,” circling and starring his words. That line was just one of dozens that I notated and underlined, commenting “Wow,” “Cool perspective,” or “I need to research this.”
(I’m a firm believer in Marginalia. I indulge in inky, one-sided conversations with the authors of all my books. )
My curious mind loves to discover new facts and then write about them so others can know them, too. That’s what writers do. But it’s never about one single fact.
A writer’s brain takes one idea and pushes it to another and another and another in an endless circuit. The discovery of one research fact sparks interest in another field. One fire leads to an inferno of desire to find out more.
So after two pieces about creativity inspired by the book, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci,” I decided to research Gelb’s idea about the pencil spurring the Renaissance because I was curious.
4) Ask Questions About the Idea You Pick
I had never given much thought to how the pencil came into being, but I realized there was so much I didn’t know. Like when were pencils manufactured? And how? When did they become a commonplace item? How are pencils made? How many people use pencils? What do people like about writing with pencils instead of writing with pens? What are the most popular pencils now? What famous writers use pencils? Why are most pencils yellow?
If a writer asks questions, there will always be answers to write about.
5) Research the Answers to Your Questions
With the ease of doing research today, I just typed in a few Google searches and hundreds of facts about pencils popped up at the touch of my fingers, a far cry from the past when research took days at the library going through the card catalog and looking at entries in the Readers Guide to Periodicals.
Once I started thinking about pencils, I couldn’t STOP thinking about them. Who knew there was so much to know about pencils? Who would ever have dreamed that there were multiple articles hiding in Michael Gelb’s the “pencil-prompted-the-Renaissance-theory” sentence?
6) Look for Different Angles
The research suggested a marketing angle explaining why one savvy company started painting their pencils yellow, starting a trend that still exists today.
More research on the power of the pencil throughout history helped prove Gelb’s hypothesis that the pencil spurred the Renaissance:
The research led me to the fact that one of the premier pencil companies of 19th century America was owned and operated by the family of Henry David Thoreau. A completely different angle opened up, showcasing the scientific, business side of the famous American writer who used his powers of “civil engineering” to alter how the pencil lead was made.
7) Let Your Research Move You to a Different Field
The more I researched about Thoreau, the more I found out that I didn’t know before. It wasn’t related to creativity or da Vinci and moved me into the sphere of literary biography, just by following the research trails.
8) Veer Off the Path a Bit
Once I had jumped into the literary arena with my research into Thoreau’s life, I continued to veer off the path, moving from Thoreau to the whole cadre of writers. Which ones actually preferred pencils and depended on them as part of their process?
9) Be Ultra-Specific
Until that simple statement in Gelb’s book about the pencil, I had never considered the impact of them, much less the craftsmanship of them. Being a pen-user, I had never heard of some of the “quintessential” pencils that exist for today’s writers and artists, which led me to the discovery of the legendary Blackwing pencils. One ultra-specific brand in a field of hundreds. Can’t wait to try a few.
10) Explain the Basic Concept You Started With
WHY Does Reading Lead to Writing?
Reading and writing are so intertwined, that you can’t do one without the other. If I hadn’t read How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, I wouldn’t have written all these other articles.
(Would I have ever thought about the factors that contributed to the Renaissance or the fascinating history of the pencil? Would I have been able to create ten articles and more than 13,000 words of content if I weren’t a reader willing to follow the rabbit trails of research? Definitely not.)
But what is the link between reading and writing, the whole idea I started with? Following that research resulted in “How a Daily Reading Habit Makes You More Creative Than a Daily Writing Habit.”
This Is Just the Beginning
I'm just getting started. There are scores of notated lines in my “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” book and thousands of more notes in the dozens of books on my shelves.
All of them waiting to be researched and written about.
Brain buzz is a good thing, pumping intellectual stimulation from one idea to another. Pushing one thought in a new direction. Presenting unique perspectives by broadening or narrowing the focus. Pursuing research that emphasizes an unexpected outcome.
Reading gives writers the brain buzz that leads to a lifetime of writing. All you have to do is use these ten tactics to twist your ideas into content.
Award-winning teacher, entrepreneur, and writer. Marketing manager in the HVAC and Plumbing industries. Author of The Magic of Ordinary, a memoir of a "Daddy," his daughters, and the power of one good man to change the world.