Cross-pollinate ideas.

One day, enterprise client X rang me asking for all the material I’d used in my research for an essay I wrote for them about a month ago. I hadn’t realised I needed these links, so I hadn’t bookmarked them. This meant that I had to go down my browser history for the days of writing and look through the URLs. I was ah-mayzed at how many pages I’d visited that day. After digging through the browser history garbage can, I put the bibliography together and sent it along.

The next day, I was writing a blog post about interesting data science projects for an education start up. I began the article with:

Try this: Open your browser history and see all the web pages you’ve visited in the last 30 days. If you’re an IT employee in India today, you’ll have hundreds, if not thousands, of links in this period — from the latest movie trailer to online programming tutorials. You’ll realise that in the digital era, data is easy to obtain. We are leaving digital footprints with nearly every activity we undertake. By intelligently analysing this data, we can understand the world around us faster and better. In this blog post, we’ll show you how professionals have done so in the past, through our collection of top 10 data science projects from around the world.

The client was delighted. She loved how this makes it relatable to the reader and immerses them in the idea. It is better than a generic “we create 123,456 petabytes of data everyday” type lede, isn’t it?

As writers, the world around us is inspiration. Every little thing — even if ah-mayzingly irritating — is good fodder for something else in the future. Keeping an eye out for these ideas is the first step to finding inspiration. Here are some things I regularly do:

  • Include pop culture into my writing — a Sherlock Holmes or Michelle Obama reference works pretty well even in serious enterprise content.

  • Tap into everyday incidents and reactions — someone out there might be feeling just the way you do, relatability comes from exploring that feeling, like the example above.

  • Build on existing ideas — pet themes, hobbies, interests, using stuff I care about to throw light on things I’m writing. Cat-grooming-As-A-Service, may be? No? Okay.

  • Juxtaposition — taking an idea from one place and placing it in a contrasting context. The way scientific discourse about a ‘meme’ comes from genetics.

When you write enterprise tech content, which can sometimes be pretty drab, it’s things like these that make it relatable, even enjoyable. With some inspiration, you, the writer of such content, also stand out.