I studied journalism at university. It was interesting.
After four years I graduated with a broken ankle, upper second class honours and a handful of social skills.
While there I went to a talk by the journalist and documentary maker, John Pilger.
(check out his site or his books if you’ve not heard of him before)
He said a lot of great stuff.
But, this was the line that has always stuck with me:
“Great journalism starts in the street”.
He’s right, you know.
But let me edit that quote to something more relevant to us:
“Great storytelling starts in the street”.
After all, writing is storytelling.
Writing your C.V? You’re telling the story of your career.
Writing an advert, or copy for a site? You’re telling the story of your product.
Writing a speech? You’re telling the story of why others should think a certain way, or do a certain thing.
It’s all kinda obvious really, isn’t it? But, sometimes I think someone needs to point out the obvious, because it’s so easy to discard or forget.
I guess that someone is me.
Next time you’re out take in your surroundings. Listen to the people around you.
Soak everything up and look for inspiration.
9 times out of 10 you’ll find that the audience you’re writing for will be made up of normal, everyday people.
Where will you find them? In the street, of course.
The more in touch you are with what every day people do and how they react, the easier it’ll be able to change your style to one they’ll connect with.
I once had to write an article about coffee tables.
I know nothing about them.
So, I spent an hour in House of Fraser – hovering around the furniture section, listening to families as they discussed their purchases.
I learnt the things people look for, and the things that put them off.
Do I need to get a life? Probably.
Did I learn a lot? Yes.
So there you have it, you can be inspired and you can learn from the world around you.
Great ideas start in the street.