Busting the “There Are No New Ideas” Myth

Stuck on Old Ideas

As an Expert Author juggling your business and personal goals, it’s not easy to come up with an original article idea on the spot. Under the circumstances, you do your best with the resources and time you have. After all, you know the importance of maintaining a connection with your audience and you have an article deadline to meet.

Pressed for time, you stick to writing what you know: The standards of your niche.

But there’s one problem … Dozens of experts in your niche may also know what you know. Stuck, you exasperatedly exclaim:

“There are no new ideas! How am I expected to write anything new when everything has already been done?”

That’s a myth. There are tons of ideas waiting to be discovered. And you can discover them in the same manner Johannes Gutenberg rethought the printing press around 1440, which would influence the Age of Enlightenment and centuries later cause Mark Twain to say, “What the world is today, good and bad, it owes it to Gutenberg.”

You rethink an idea. You focus your creativity. You think critically. You problem solve. You use your own experiences to dust off old ideas, polish them into insightful articles, and make an impact that’s original and authoritative.

Challenges You Face

If you’re following any number of websites on your personal social media or are signed up for email newsletters, you see the daunting task before you: idea churn. What’s idea churn? It’s the Internet machine that agitates and turns out the same topics, but in different packages. When you look for it, it’s easy to recognize on many websites: A leading authority makes a ground breaking statement that resonates. Within hours, everyone begins publishing their version of the statement after seeing the waves it makes with readers. You’ve likely seen some variant of these titles from a variety of sources:

  • Ways Successful People Think Differently
  • What You Should (or Shouldn’t Say) in an Interview/On the Job/Etc.
  • The Relationship Advice You Need

I’m sure you can rattle off 5-10 themes specific to your niche that are overdone on the Internet. It’s the nature of the business, which has been going on long before websites were developed and the Internet was born. Readers clamor after the same topics during particular stages in their lives and careers because they need to allay their fears, meet their needs, satisfy their wants, and achieve satisfaction. Authors and publishers know this because they have proof in their data. While each of these articles and their variants no doubt contain original approaches, stories, and more – the core facts are rarely new or ground breaking.

It’s in the message – the impact the author has on the reader – that makes it successful.

Reinventing the Wheel

You can be a game changer in your niche by improving your message with original content. Establish these three methods into your writing routine to build bigger, better ideas. As soon as you reflexively begin passing your original ideas on to your audience, you’ll have made a huge leap toward greater authority and improved exposure.

  1. Make idea generation and writing a priority. If you don’t make time, you won’t have time.

    Avoid the trap that ideas will come to you. You have to go after them. Idea generation is not sustainable without dedicated time for reflection and the act of writing.

    Many people get disheartened because writing begins to feel like an undesirable chore, so they give up or put it off. Don’t quit. In fact, do the opposite: Write a huge body of work that explores every aspect of your niche, discloses your personal reflections on how trends affect your readers, changes the perspectives, asks new questions, and much more. Look for that special thing that marks your content as uniquely you to build credibility (and in turn, increase your exposure). Don’t hold yourself back by striving for perfection for each and every article – you, your style, and your audience will grow with each article. Just write!

  2. Open up to creativity and curiosity by admitting three difficult words.

    People tend to think creativity is about spontaneity – that spark of inspiration that spontaneously combusts in your mind and possesses you to crank out an article in under an hour. Creativity is rethinking an idea and reshaping it from a new perspective. Creativity is also asking strange and difficult questions. Creativity is thinking macro and micro. Creativity is admitting you’ve reached the edge of your knowledge. Creativity is admitting you don’t know.

    In their book, Think Like a Freak, authors Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt explain those three little words, “I don’t know,” are the most difficult to admit. You may think, “I’m supposed to be the expert – readers are counting on me to know. If I admit that I don’t know, then I’ll lose face. I’d rather fake it to make it, than lose credibility.” Here’s the issue: By failing to admit that you don’t know and only sticking to what you know may be wasting tons of your time, money, and resources. Not to mention, you risk more embarrassment if you make the wrong assumption while faking it. Levitt touched on this point in his recent Freakonomics’ podcast:

    “Think about it. It might keep your job for another week or another month, it might make people think you are good, but that’s not the point. I mean what fun is life if all you do is go through life trying to fake that you are something that you are not when really the goal is to be good, and to improve, and to learn, and to make things better. And the only way to do that is to start by saying I don’t know. And when I don’t know, I don’t know.”*

    There’s safety in writing what you know, but do you know whether it’s actually working for you and attracting your audience? Have you tested it? There’s major opportunity in discovering new information. Break new ground. Test new strategies. Allow your topics to spill over into different facets of life and into other niches. Try new approaches to reach your audience. Your curiosities will lead you to new information in which you will be the primary source, leading everyone else.

  3. Know when to stop! If you feel like you’re repeatedly charging at your idea like a battering ram, then stop. It’s not going to make the idea reveal itself to you.

    A while back, I found myself watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory. The character Sheldon was stuck while trying to work out a physics theory. He tries a number of experiments that don’t work, such as placing dozens of marbles on the floor (much to the dismay of his roommate) or sitting in a children’s ball pit. He’s at his wits end when it dawns on him that he should perform a menial task to take his mind off the problem and it will reveal itself to him when he’s not looking. So he picks up a job clearing dishes from tables while letting this problem sit in the back of his mind. While carrying a tray of dirty dishes, Sheldon is distracted by another character and drops the tray. A look of awe and recognition overcomes him as he sees the answer for which he was searching in the array of broken dishes.

    Here’s the moral of the story: Don’t focus so hard on the problem that you can’t see the solution. Change your tactic. Do something else. Wash the dishes, drop off the mail, play a puzzle, go to the park, read an article, or watch the news. Be a sponge that absorbs your environment and is in the moment doing other things. You’ll be surprised when that idea you’re looking for finds you.

Don’t Stand Still

Dismiss the myth that there are no new ideas. What readers want is always changing. The world of article writing and content marketing is always growing. You can either go with the flow by reiterating the same old ideas or you can direct the flow by generating new ideas. Use the above strategies to achieve the latter and begin building your authority in your niche. Who knows? Someday, another great author may say this of you: “What the world is today, good and bad, it owes it to [insert your name here].”

How do you ensure you aren’t writing the same ideas over and over again? How do you develop new ideas? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

* Dubner, Stephen and Steve Levitt (2014 May 15). The Three Hardest Words in the English Language (Transcript). Retrieved May 19, 2014, from Freakonomics.com

PS: I have a confession – I’m a huge fan of the 15 Busting Myths in Your Niche Article Templates our editors created. The idea for this post was inspired by the There Are No New Ideas Myth Article Template. As soon as I reviewed this template, my mind leaped to that old complaint by many frustrated authors who write into us and I had to jot this down as a reminder to share with you: “Original? How?! Everything’s already been written on the Internet. What chance do I have to make it?!”

Click here to get the 15 Busting Myths in Your Niche Article Templates from the Build Your Own Article Template Package series and share your own insights and experiences using the There Are No New Ideas Myth Article Template.

16 Comments »


1
David Croucher writes:

Another great post, Vanessa – especially those ‘three little words.

I get my ideas mainly when reading my daily internet input and searching the Net for the spin-offs that it creates in my own mind.

One point – is THIS an article of new ideas? Or an new approach? Or am I being a bit naughty in asking?

Comment provided May 23, 2014 at 10:05 AM

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2
arundhathi writes:

When I read the above above article,
I felt as though it was just pointing to my writing schedule. Yes. Truly taking time to develop article writing ideas is a very hard job. But the results from hard work are high yielding.

Thanks

Comment provided May 23, 2014 at 12:57 PM

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3
Bernard writes:

Excellent article. Might want to check the line below though:

I’d rather fake it to make it, then lose credibility.

Comment provided May 23, 2014 at 1:03 PM

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Hi Bernard,

You’re right! Thank you for catching that. The post has been updated.

~Vanessa

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4
Rajagopal Tiruvayapati writes:

Yes, every step we tread in our daily life provides us ideas and leads. Thanks for the article.

Comment provided May 23, 2014 at 8:41 PM

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5
Matthew Morris writes:

I have dealt with many ‘experts’ over the years that fail to realize the danger in never admitting they don’t know the answer to a given question in their niche. The first time I realize they are feeding me a line of bull is the last time I treat them as an expert. The best of the best will admit they don’t know the answer… then scramble to research the question… then get back with me at a later date with the information.

Comment provided May 23, 2014 at 9:17 PM

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6

This post is a reflection of the state of minds that feel the dearth of ideas. Everyday throws up some inputs to produce new materials . And it is the mind that needs to capture and convert the ideas into useful articles and posts. This is the reason why FB and Pinterest have become favourites of readers. No scarcity of ideas …..get it from FB and several sources.

Comment provided May 23, 2014 at 9:57 PM

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7
Joseph Dabon writes:

There are always things to write about. The problems is, as you say, package it to make it interesting to the readers. Good writing is not about good ideas. It is about presenting them to make them look good.

Comment provided May 24, 2014 at 2:32 AM

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8
Ishan M writes:

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing

Comment provided May 24, 2014 at 5:50 AM

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9
Moronke writes:

I always learn great ideas from your article.
As a teacher, I always admit to my students that I don’t know all only GOD.
Thanks.

Comment provided May 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM

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10
pThomas writes:

Very nice article, I read it twice and will have to get that book ‘Think Like A Freak’. I’ve been able to say those three little words for a couple decades now but I do follow it up with “but I’ll research it and get back to you when/if I figure it out”. All great points and Thank You for Sharing!

Comment provided May 24, 2014 at 2:14 PM

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11
Emmanuel Nwaeke writes:

Quite a refreshing write up. Each time I hit a dead end while writing, I shut out every thought about the topic and go watching news or viewing animal world programs.In the midst of watching these programs on TV, the answers to my questions usually spring out in a flash. This same technique which was effective for me as a physics major also works in my writing jobs. Thanks for this beautiful write up.

Comment provided May 25, 2014 at 7:54 PM

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12
Lance Winslow writes:

Even the content marketing sector itself doesn’t seem to be running out of new ideas. I very much enjoyed this dialogue online;

http://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/white-papers/understanding-rise-sponsored-content/

Online Article Authors would be wise to understand that they must evolve just as the industry is evolving.

Comment provided May 26, 2014 at 9:57 PM

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13
Bharadhwaj S.K writes:

I completely agree with the bit on changing the writing tactic. For us writers, focussing on writing relevant content-with a fresh steam of ideas is a major challenge. The way I look at it is-changing the viewpoint of the article to suit the end user and their expectations. A simple article can be written as a comparative study, a suggestion, a feasibility analysis or just a plain reference study. Thinking on the ways an end-user might look at the article gives us immense options.

Comment provided May 28, 2014 at 2:05 PM

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14
Celina Bell writes:

Awesome article.. I think I am in love with you.. lol with your article :)

Comment provided August 21, 2014 at 6:49 AM

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Hi Celina!

We are flattered! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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