When doing any kind of creating — writing blog posts, making videos, or outlining a course — I recommend following these 3 phases, in order:
If we get stuck on the project, or it doesn’t make an impact, we’re probably skipping one of these phases.
Let me explain.
(First, I’d like to give credit: the inspiration of this post came from Cal Newport’s podcast “Deep Questions” where he discussed his project framework: friction, flow, finalization. I’m reframing it here into something that may feel a bit more uplifting — “play” instead of “friction” — and I added in the marketing angle — “promote” instead of “finalization”. But I can see how his 3F framework would be helpful to those who are focusing on the work itself, and don’t have to promote it.)
What I invite you to do in the first phase of creation is to aim for open-minded, heartfelt connection.
Practice connecting again to your deep purpose, the passion for your work.
In this first phase, also connect, in your mind and heart, with your audience — sense into their energy. What do we feel will serve them, uplift them, make a positive impact?
In this regard, Play is the integration of our passion with the enjoyment of our audience’s energy!
There’s no judgment or evaluation in this phase. It is an opportunity to practice exploration, experimentation, and genuine Self-expression.
Open your consciousness to a higher (or deeper) state. Let yourself imagine outwardly. Bring forth — in your planning, writing, speaking, or artistry — an unfettered allowance of Spirit to flow through you.
In other words, you are channeling your authentic Self, putting it into words… art… or plans.
The experience of Play is magical. What was once a blank canvas will be filled with ideas that you didn’t know you could create.
It may be messy, but that’s perfectly fine at this phase — you are playing, not polishing yet!
Once you’ve had some set time to Play (yes, set a time limit!) and have drafted some ideas, then move to the next phase of creation.
Sleep on it first: Play with your ideas for that project on one day, then on another day, come back, play a bit more, and then move right into the Polishing phase.
(Having played, then taken a break, we come back with fresh eyes to improve the initial idea.)
Polish is where we reorder things, edit down, add relevant and interesting details, give it a once over (several times) to uplevel its presentation.
The key question that we hold here is “What would make this more helpful or delightful to the audience?”
Whereas in the first phase, our mind/heart connection to the audience is childlike play or communion without bounds — a right-brained approach — in this next phase of creation, Polish, we are more likely to be exercising our left brain.
In this phase, we think about “How can we save the audience’s time by pruning away the unnecessary, sequencing our ideas to be more understandable, and adding examples to help them integrate our ideas?”
Polish is something I do even for stage 1 content, although I do it more quickly compared to stage 2 or 3. (If you haven’t yet, read The 3 Stages of Content Creation.)
In this phase, if we are creating content, we might also consider doing some SEO work such as keyword research and rewriting our content to better align with our best keywords. In other words, help bridge the audience’s current understanding towards what we want them to know.
And of course, do a spelling and grammar check :)
Again, a time limit is helpful here. Just do some polishing, knowing that you can improve a future version. Then, promptly move into the next phase.
I see so many creators fail to give enough energy and time to this phase. The more you’ve poured your heart into the first two phases, the more it deserves to be properly promoted.
Make a list of all the channels where you have some influence. For example, do you have a Facebook Business Page where you can run Ads to promote your content? What about Instagram? Youtube? Email newsletter?
In the Promote phase, you are sharing your genuine excitement for this new project, in service to the audience’s wants.
All 3 Phases are Important
When play is skipped, the project feels like a chore.
When polish is skipped, the deliverable is sloppy.
When promotion is skipped, its impact will be small.
Do all three, in order:
Give it a try :)