creativity

Can You Develop Your Academic Writing With a Copywriting Formula? – TUB-Thump 021

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I enjoyed writing academic essays most when I was being creative in the process.

My aim was to guide the reader on a journey of discovery. A couple of times, I was a bit cheeky and argued against an idea that didn’t have much to argue against.

The best way to do that was to build up a compelling story and back it up with as many relevant points as possible.

Since I was writing about fiction on these occasions, I was demonstrating how perspectives aren’t all the same. But in order to do this, I needed to take the reader with me. After all, what’s the point in them getting lost after turning the first corner?

I was being cheeky, yes. But I wasn’t being kamikaze. The aim was to have fun, not lose marks!

It helps to look at different styles of writing, no matter what you’re working on.

For instance, academic coursework uses a particular language and flow. Yet that writing can still be improved by borrowing from fiction, copywriting, and other aspects of the written word.

That’s why today’s TUB-Thump takes a look at Pamela Wilson’s 7-part formula for content marketing.

Marketing may not be your first port of call, but it could help you see your writing from a different perspective, or let you tweak your style in creative ways.

What creative flourishes can you borrow today?


Here are the show notes for the 9-min episode:

  • 00:30 – Copyblogger FM show on making content marketing easier.
  • 01:00 – I introduce Pamela Wilson’s 7-part formula for writing content. See the infographic below for more detail. And if you’re really interested in content marketing, check out her new book, Master Content Marketing.
  • 02:20 – Narrative and flow are important, no matter what you’re writing.
  • 03:05 – Leading the reader in and getting them involved. “Why am I here? What’s this all about? Why should I care? What’s interesting about this?”
  • 04:50 – Pack a punch in your summary/conclusion by reinforcing your ideas and findings.
  • 05:15 – Call to action. Not quite the same with academic essays, but there’s still some scope.
  • 06:40 – Steven Pressfield: Writing the hero into the story, whatever the writing. The hero’s journey gets the reader hooked. “I’ve had my own hero’s journey, and you have too. We’re both still on those journeys.”

Pamela Wilson has helpfully published an infographic with her 7-part formula. Like I say, it’s not an alternative to academic writing, but it may give you an extra creative jolt:

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Like this infographic? Get more content marketing advice that works from Copyblogger.


Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

How to Build an Idea, Quick!

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Need to force yourself to start that essay?

Want to make a good start on your coursework the second it’s announced?

I’ve got a good way to get the creative juices flowing.

It’s a quick way to throw an idea out there before you do any detailed research. No matter how much you end up using, the idea is to wrap your head around the work in a way that practically prepares you.

Spend 10-20mins writing out what you *think* you want to say in the essay. That’s it. Forget the need to back up your point with references. Don’t worry about getting it “right”.

Just let rip on your initial thoughts around the topic.

Don’t worry about how strange it sounds when you get the words down. The words may turn out to be rubbish. But that’s not the point of this exercise. No judgement here!

The aim is to have something written. It’s a start.

There’s something magical in firing up the mental process, even when you end up submitting something completely different.

And that’s okay. You may decide to discard all of this later down the line. But for now, this is a great route to building an idea quickly. Much better than fearing the blinking cursor on a blank white page. There’s no time for that when you’re jotting down the first ideas that come to your mind.

Your initial point of view is all that matters:

  • What is your take on the subject?
  • Does one view speak more to you than others? Do you want to look in several directions?
  • Does the whole concept confuse you?
  • What other feelings do you have? What interests you about the question? Where are the open-ended thoughts?
  • How does this reflect on what you’ve already been learning in the course/module so far?

When you do start the detailed research and assessment, you can see how your hypothesis compares with your findings. You can compare your ideas now with how they started off.

The point is, you get started with an idea that takes you no time at all to create. You form an argument that gets you thinking. And it saves you time further on in the process.

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Armed with this quick start, you may feel like you’re on a roll. Raring to go, it shouldn’t take you long to write down even more thoughts to bolster up your idea.

When you are full of inspiration like that, crack on for another 20-30 minutes and draft a simple outline:

  • Think about how you would marry up the argument with the essay.
  • Write a potential introductory paragraph.
  • Attempt a conclusion based on your initial thoughts.

It’s unlikely your final draft will look like your first thoughts, but this is a chance to see how realistic your view feels. Your first steps into further research will soon tell you when you’re onto something.

Finally, note down a few points you want to explore in the main content of the essay. This will be a good starting point for finding references and supporting material.

In no more than an hour or so, you may be well on the way to a solid framework. No more starting on a blank page, and no more overwhelm when considering where to begin.

As your confidence builds, you may find this method a good one to return to. That hour can get you several hundred words and a prepared mind.

That’s why, even if you scrap most of the content, the process spurs you on.

From an essay title to a potential idea and a few words. It’s surprising how much you can get done in such a short space of time.

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Why does this work? Because you either:

  • …know what you want to say and don’t know how feasible it sounds until you write it up in draft.
  • …don’t know what you want to say and need to create a something based on a little guesswork and hope.

The worst that can happen is that you’ll end up doing something else entirely. No big deal, because the process doesn’t take long at all.

And anything positive you get out of it is a bonus. Worth investing the small amount of time and effort it takes.

The more confident you are about the content, the more likely you’ll find some gold straight away too. What’s not to like?

Next time you’re given some coursework, I bet it’ll feel good to have some ideas, an outline, and maybe even a few hundred words written practically straight away.

All this before you’ve put another research-step forward…

How to Take Action When It’s Tough (and Be More Creative in the Process) – TUB-Thump 010

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Is there something in your life that stops you in your tracks? You wish you could do it, but you feel blocked.

It may be through embarrassment, overwhelm, worry…Whatever it is, it’s getting in the way of you being the best version of yourself.

Episode 010 of TUB-Thump looks at how to work on this. Find that drive, work out the why behind your why, and get more creative in the process.


Here are the show notes for the 12-min episode:

  • 00:50 – James Clear on how creativity is a process, not an event.
    More James Clear articles – http://jamesclear.com/articles
  • 01:40 – Why the fear of making mistakes can stop you from taking action.
  • 02:40 – Procrastination is about more than putting things off.
  • 03:15 – Beautiful Voyager on when the problem isn’t what you think it is.
    On unpacking the issues so you understand what’s truly bothering you.
  • 04:40 – Finding the why behind your why. The importance of asking “Why…?” several times.
  • 05:50 – “If you don’t take action, there is no creation.”
  • 06:30 – These feelings aren’t surprising. Overwhelm can be tackled, but only when you step back for a moment to work out the key issues. If you don’t identify the overarching themes, it’ll feel like everything is overwhelming. The reality is usually different.
  • 08:10 – You can recover from most things, as James Clear says. What can you challenge yourself to do?
  • 09:45 – Once you’ve found the big issue, it’s easier to act in the other situations. By removing them from the overwhelm, they no longer feel like such a big deal.
  • 10:40 – It’s better to tackle things head-on than it is to let them swamp you.

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

And a P.S. – The joy of scheduling posts in advance for when you’re not around. The woe of realising that didn’t happen when it’s too late to do anything about it. Oh well! One day late is better than not at all. 🙂

Have a great weekend. See you on the flipside!

Learning, Consistency, and the Creative’s Curse

I’ve just realised that I didn’t post here on TUB about the start of my third (and final…so far) audio show…”Learning, Always”.

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Today sees Episode 003 of the podcast online, where I interview author and overall fab person, Todd Brison.

We discuss:

  • The Creative’s Curse.
  • How to develop a creative process that works for you.
  • The power of consistency.
  • The importance of being inspired by others, but then finding your own take on things.
  • Why you don’t need to know absolutely everything before you start a creative project.
  • And much more…

Check out more from Todd Brison on his site, in his book, and over at Medium.

Full shownotes, links, and timestamps are available on learningalways.co.uk.