Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to Cultivate Unconventional Thinking

We already have enough conventional ideas in the world. A standard example: our political media contains only two types of people: those from the left and those from the right. Most of them say the same things all the time. When was the last time you read about a genuinely new, creative and nuanced political idea?

Or take sports writing. Which would you prefer: an formulaic article covering obvious details of a game, or an article that teaches you new nuances of a sport you thought you knew well?

The writers who embrace unconventional ideas stand out and get read.

But how do you become an unconventional writer?

Sadly, you need to start by reading as much conventional information as you can. This will tell you what not to write and how not to think, and it will help you map out the boundaries of existing consensus thinking. Then, make a practice of writing about things beyond those boundaries.

Hardly any of the information out there is interesting, new or genuinely useful. If you can cultivate an unconventional voice as a writer, you will find readers--lots of them.