I have 615 restaurants marked “Want To Go” on my Google Maps in New York City.
Why? Because when I'm out and about and I'm hungry, it’s decision-time, not research time.
Choose a Restaurant From The Map
The average Yelper is not evaluating food in the same way that I do.
I spend 15-20 minutes a day curating who I follow on IG, looking at pics/vids, reading captions and comments, and diligently indexing them geographically in Google Maps to match my expectations.
I’ve been doing this for years.
When David Perell introduced the idea of Ambient Research in our first Write Of Passage class, I immediately recognized the similarities to what I’d been doing with food.
I had gotten so good at choosing restaurants that I’m that guy in most of my friend groups. I do it multiple times a week.
What if I could become that guy but with writing?
I’ve never been able to write consistently. I’d start for stints and then “run out of ideas”. In reality, we all have enough ideas, the problem is we let them slip away.
Patch your Pipelines
There are two flavors of information capture for Ambient Research in writing. The first is from reading. That could be Twitter or books or articles.
I don’t really read much and haven’t implemented this system yet.
The second is from living. This includes thoughts you have, conversations, and even observations you make throughout the day.
I add an item to my living list if I ranted about it for 5 minutes. This indicates to me that I am excited to speak on. If I am excited to speak on it, I’ll also be excited to write on it.
That excitement makes your writing magnetic.
Even if I didn’t rant one day, I have a backup strategy to capture living notes. Joojo Ocran, our WOP Mentor, has a daily homework he shared with us to reinforce the diligence of this habit:
- Pick a time each evening to reflect on your day
- What was the most storyworth moment?
- What moment could you give a ted talk on?
- What moment changed your perspective?
Capture it in a line or two
Creating a Google Keep list of these living notes has changed the way I select topics to write about. Same with the consistency that I publish.
That feeling of being overwhelmed when you sit to write will magically melt away. When you’re hungry to write, it’s decision time, not research time.
Choose a topic from the living list
One important key to success is confidence. An important key to confidence is preparation.
Without ambient research, when you sit down to write, you won’t be confident about writing because you haven’t prepared.
Just like the unconfident me when I use Yelp in the city instead of my carefully curated Google Maps list.
I will never run out of places to eat in NYC due to my ambient restaurant research. By implementing my living info capture system, I’ll always have ideas to write about.
Imagine how amazing it would feel to never run out of ideas to write on. To never be blocked. To seemingly effortlessly flow through the world prolifically creating.
Who would have known the same principles that apply to restaurant research applied to online writing research?
Don’t let these precious ideas slip away. You owe it to the world to share your voice.
And whenever you’re hungry to write, you know where to go.