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Where do great emails come from?
👉 hint: it's not waiting for the muse to arrive
If you want to write great emails - especially that "barnstorming first email" I keep banging on about - you need some decent ideas for them.
In particular, you need decent ideas on how to take whatever topic you want to write about and make it interesting.
So where do those ideas come from?
In my experience, the magic recipe has three ingredients:
Diversity in your inputs and connections. Don't spend all your time in the weeds in your own specialist area only ever talking to people in that field. Read wider. Listen wider. Talk wider.
Thoughtful processing of inputs. Read less, but read better. Take good notes (whether that's Zettelkasten, Second Brain, whatever - doesn't matter). Join the dots. Let ideas percolate. Revisit.
Use prompts and provocations. Push your brain out of its groove by feeding it a starting point for ideas.
I've found that a small shortlist of prompts can generate a wealth of ways of enlivening your emails. My current list of prompts is:
An example from your childhood or youth (that relates to your topic)
An example from your early work experience (when you were first learning things)
An example from your later work experience (when you were beginning to master them)
Your biggest successes or failures (failures are more interesting!)
Recent events in your life (like a recent email I wrote based on my experience at the previous night’s stag do)
Your hobbies and interests - the weirder the better
Non-obvious links with popular culture
Non-obvious links with current affairs/news
New ideas and research from within and outside your field
Just start off with the topic you want to write about and run down the list of prompts to see if you can quickly think of a link you can use to "spice it up".
For me, it's never failed to generate multiple ideas for making emails more interesting.
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