Stop waiting for permission to create

wet paint

In 2007, I began requiring students to blog their assignments in my introductory mass communications course.  At the time, it sounded cutting edge, even for 2007.  Over the last six years, I’ve continued this online publishing expectation for my students.  When you teach in journalism and communications, having students publish class material to a blog is a no-brainer.  If they desire employment in a “creative” field, they should get started now.

During my personal branding January term course, Derek Mabie of Evolve Digital Labs spoke with my students about the importance of creating content.  He made a key point that stuck with me.  I’m paraphrasing here–but it was something to the effect of, “I think we’re past the point where simply having a blog is enough to establish a personal brand online.”

He’s right.  Once upon a time, it was enough to have a presence in that space.  Now, with the ease of publishing tools available, anyone can create a blog.  Forcing my students to “have a blog” is not so impressive anymore.

The message I’m hearing in this age of “content strategy” is–no matter what your field– to stand out, you have to prove yourself by generating compelling, useful content.  You have to know your audience, build a community.  Mabie followed up that thought with his most Tweetable nugget of the day, “Build proof, not a resume.”

So here we are in 2013.  I still require students to blog.  Only now I’ve added in Tumblr and Twitter.

As I begin a new semester, I have an expectation that students who intend to enter creative fields are taking advantage of the tools available to them online to be creative.

You want to make movies?  Make movies!  You want to be a journalist?  Start writing and curating content from industry thought leaders!  Interested in digital strategy?  What are you waiting for?

Sadly, I find too often students are waiting for someone to give them permission to create content.  Maybe it’s laziness.  Maybe it’s a lack of curiosity.  Maybe it’s their cozy Facebook world sucking the life out of them.  Or–MAYBE–(fingers crossed) they just need someone to open the door.

Let me sum this up as best I can from my vantage point:

  • The barriers to entry into creative fields are gone.
  • You have no excuses for not creating authentic content.
  • By not creating content with the free tools available, you are communicating two things to people you hope to impress: laziness and a lack of curiosity.  Don’t communicate that.  Be a rock star.
  • The world is your canvas, paint now.  Channel your inner artist.  Connect dots.
  • Expose yourself to the thought leaders in your chosen field.  Know the players.  Sit at their Twitter tables and eavesdrop on their conversations.
  • Be a sponge.  Listen and absorb.  Escape the filter bubble.  You will meet interesting people outside of Facebook.
  • Don’t know what you want to create?  Magical things happen when you pick up the paintbrush.  You may find creating something is a transformative process.

In the end, if you find you have no desire whatsoever to add to the world or to tell a story

I don’t believe you.


Your teacher

Here is the HaikuDeck version this theme:
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad



Image: Creative Commons License Michelle Tribe via Compfight

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