I like new things, as my Belbin team role suggests, I am the person who likes to start projects and enthuse others about it before… eventually.. I get bored with it and… ohh shiny! .. something new comes along.

I’m aware of this trait and have developed some internal habits that help me overcome it’s downsides, in other words I’ve figured out when I’m getting bored and so I start to change how I work to make sure that I see the project through to completion.

However my enjoyment of new things is beneficial and I’m constantly looking for new ideas, new inspirations from which I can learn, and for ways in which those ideas can be cross-pollinated (ok ok, stolen) and used in new ways.

One example came about when I first picked up on, after many years of being told to read it by my peers, Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. It’s a fascinating book and several of the key points can be translated into the technical writing world. One in particular stood out, the premise that an idea could be made ‘sticky’, and got me thinking about how I could adapt some of the methods into my approach to writing and structuring documentation. To my great pleasure that premise has been further developed by Dan & Chip Heath in their book Make it Stick and, although I’m only partway through it, I already have some ideas which may help make the documentation I create more useful to the readers.

There has been some discussion about our profession recently, whether it’s “just a job” or a vocation for some. I think I, like others, fit somewhere in the middle. Whilst I doubt technical writing/technical communications can be seen as a vocation, it’s certainly more than just a job to me, spilling over into my everyday life and thoughts. Typography, design, architecture, marketing and, basically any form of communication, has me questioning and prodding it to see if I can reuse any of it.

These days with personal publishing also a hobby for many, myself included, obviously, then anyone who is interested in communicating ideas and information is able to draw so much from such a wide pool of sources that, and I hold my hand up in admission here as well, I’m somewhat surprised that we have been a little slow to grab onto these new ways of communicating. Mind you, blogs, wikis and the like, are all still very new so I expect that to change over time.

But it won’t stop me constantly scanning the horizon for something new.

Have you taken inspiration from an odd source? Spotted a clever way to tackle information, or noted an idea or two after reading a, seemingly, unrelated book. How much of a magpie are you?