Blogging challenge: day four

Like many people, I have a bad habit of thinking that reading enough books on my area of interest will result in me being more skilled. I know this is foolish!

It’s a habit I picked when I was doing my undergraduate degree. I would go to the library, get out about ten books on the essay topic and breathe a sigh of relief. It was as if having done the research equated to having the knowledge inside my head. I would relax a bit, knowing that I had all the necessary information at my fingertips. I knew that the essay wouldn’t write itself, but somehow I felt as though having the textbooks on my desk would do the trick.

As a result, my essays were never very good. I never left enough time to write a really polished piece, and I always submitted work that was not quite finished. I longed to get good marks, but I just couldn’t quite get myself moving enough to start early and refine my work. Once a tutor wrote on my work “good start, where is the rest?”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great reader and a great supporter of reading. Reading can help you in many ways. It can provide context and a theoretical basis for your ideas. Books can describe methods and processes, but it can’t ever replace doing the actual work. No amount of reading is a substitute for actually doing something, even if the result is not quite as good as you would like it to be.

In many ways, reading is just another (more pleasurable) form of procrastination. Its a lot more fun than doing the ironing or tidying up the cupboard, but ultimately it’s a poor substitute for doing something.

I guess that’s what led to this blogging challenge. I was caught up in reading and not taking enough action.

Is there something that you are putting off doing?


Content strategy for professionals

I’m excited to announce that I’ve enrolled in a free content strategy online course which starts today. It’s a MOOC (massive online open course) and I’m one of 29,000 people who are enrolled in the course. It looks really interesting and I’ll be providing updates as I go along. If it’s something you’re interested in, why not join me?


Some people are just so creative

liquid nitrogen roses

liquid nitrogen roses (Photo credit: kasi metcalfe)

Today I thought I’d share two amazing links with you. I’ve chosen these because I think the people making them are clever and creative and brave. I’m sure that when they started out people probably thought they were just crazy, but hey just look at them now!

Exploding flowers

First cab off the rank is this incredible photographic feat

This guy drops the blossoms into liquid nitrogen to render them as fragile as eggs, after which he shoots them with an air gun from behind.

Sugar sculptures

Sugar Lab is run by Kyle and Liz, a husband and wife team of architects and designers. They make beautiful sugar sculptures using a 3D printer.

“We wanted to make our friend Chelsea a birthday cake, but we didn’t have an oven, so we decided to try to 3D print a cake instead.”

Check it out, it’s really amazing.

What do they have in common?

Apart from being really clever, both of these examples highlight the need to learn your craft. You can’t expect to be creative or innovative if you haven’t really honed your skills.  You need to understand more than the basics. You need to be highly skilled before you can launch yourself onto the world. I think a lot of people spend their time day dreaming about being mildly (or madly) famous when they should really be practising their craft.

I know that I have spent many hours looking for shortcuts, when I should have just spent the time slogging it out learning the basics. There are no shortcuts, so don’t be fooled by people who say that there is an easier way.

Whilst you should strive to be the best that you can be, don’t imagine that it’s an easy task. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for experience, so go forth and learn whatever it is you need to learn. If you put in enough effort, you will get a result.