This post builds on yesterday’s post on the Curious Blogger.
Is curiosity a personality trait or can it be learned?
I suspect that personality type does come into being curious. Some people seem to be naturally wired in a way where they’re doing the above things – however I also think that it is something that can be learned to some extent. Here are 12 starting points for becoming ‘more curious’:
1. Don’t accept Spin
Keep an eye on the ‘official word’ and press releases that you see – but don’t accept that they are the final word. Get in the habit of asking ‘what isn’t being said?’ Allow yourself to be a little critical – (but balance it with optimism).
2. Ask Questions
Curious people are always asking questions of others around them (and themselves). Be careful that you don’t do this to the point where you become known as a gossip or in a way that people feel ‘used’ – but get in the habit of asking the questions that might normally go unasked. It’s amazing what people will tell you when you do ask the question.
3. Ask ‘What if…’
One of the key questions you should get in the habit of asking is ‘what if’? Curious people don’t just ask but they come up with solutions – they dream up ways of solving problems. Many of the solutions will end up being thrown away but if you ask ‘what if’ enough times you’re bound to make progress eventually.
4. ‘Turn Questions into Quests’
An old teacher once used this phrase with me and it’s stuck in my mind ever since.asking ‘what if…’ (and other questions) is not enough. Keep a record of the questions that you ask yourself (and that your readers ask you) and revisit them from time to time to attempt to find a solution to the problems behind the questions. Taking your questions to the next level like this may not always be fruitful but at times it’ll lead you on journeys of discovery to unexpected places.
5. Dig deeper than the RSS feed
Keep in mind that you’ll not be the only person in your niche using the tools mentioned above. As a result if all you ever do is regurgitate what you find in them the result will be a blog that is very similar to what others are writing in your niche. Develop a network of contacts, make your own news, dig around other information sources and at times you’ll get lucky and find news that is unique.
6. Use available Tools
Familiarize yourself with tools that will help you gather and filter information. Tools like Technorati, news aggregators, blog pulse, Topix, Google News etc are all tools that help you keep your finger on the pulse of your niche.
7. Put disconnected ideas together
Edward De Bono has a lot of different exercises that help people develop lateral thinking skills. I’ve read a number of his books that give suggestions on putting random ideas together to find new solutions and find that using them is great and will help you come up with ideas that you’d never dreamt of previously.
Perhaps the most curious of ‘creatures’ are children who do a lot of what we’re writing about here (especially asking questions). Another thing that children do is ‘play’. With no other agenda than having fun and seeing what happens next children will play with the things around them, experiment and push the boundaries of their environment. In doing so they learn about life, themselves and their world. I find that it’s often when I take this ‘playful’ approach to life that I’m at my most creative and make all kinds of discoveries.
9. Get Proactive
One of the main things that I notice about curious people are that they rarely sit still and are always pushing forward and taking initiative. They don’t expect stories or ideas to just come to them (although they do at times) but actively search for ideas to write about and people to connect with. They have a mindset where it almost becomes natural to ask, seek and find the things that the rest of us hope that will one day fall in our laps.
A lot of what I covered in my last post on the characteristics of curious bloggers related to their ability to connect with others. Reach out to other bloggers in your niche (email them, comment on their blogs, help them improve their blogs etc) but also your readers (as you’ll find all kinds of interesting contacts among them).
11. Find a ‘Curiosity Buddy’
As you network – keep your eyes open for other curious people to spend time with. I have a number of other curious and creative bloggers who I naturally am drawn to that from time to time I spend a little time with to do some blue sky thinking with. I find that the ideas often flow through such collaboration.
12. Slow Down
Blogging is an immediate and at times fast paced medium. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the possibilities and feel under pressure to have to produce high quantities of content day in day out – however if you don’t stop occasionally to reflect upon and make space for the above things you’ll be unlike to actually benefit from them.