Recycling: That Idea in the Blind Spot
Last week I started thinking about recycling as a strategy.
Here’s what usually happens when something slaps me in the face:
There’s something I’ve been doing, or something someone I know has been doing, but I never consider it. I see it, I know it’s going on, but I don’t put a name on it. I don’t acknowledge it.
It’s that car in my blind spot that I’m always surprised to see when I look over my left shoulder.
Last week, Baker Lawley left a post-post comment asking about sticking to our guns and just doing what we knew is right. His comment and a few e-mails with Mr. Swag Club got me thinking about recycling.
I started writing this post, with the idea that recycling is a loaded word for writers.
Truth is, Mr. Swag Club is the first person I mentioned it to—he got my wheels spinning—and then I started thinking about how I’ve thought about the word myself.
There’s a journalist I spoke with about two weeks ago:
Him: “I’m expanding the brief mention of X person in Y book into a full-length feature for Z newspaper.”
Me: “Cool. You’re recycling it.”
Him: “No, it’s something new.”
Me picking my battles: “Sounds like a good idea.”
One phrase I’ve heard and said dozens of times: “No, that’s old. It’s been recycled.”
There’s an idea, it’s been done. And the perceived negative is that it has been recycled. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a new way to do it.
Shakespeare—He’s been recycled hundreds of times, from high school plays to the recent animated film Gnomeo and Juliet. Some of the recycles have been extraordinary—and then there’s the rest . . .
But when I look at blogging and recycling, that’s where I completely missed the boat.
I was in traditional Cheerios mode—without all the different flavors, cruising as the original, not figuring out how to take something that was working out a step.
A lot of time and energy goes into blogging. So why stop at original? Why not do something else with all of the posts? How do we get to Honey Nut Cheerios? How do we present something in a new way, for those who aren’t keen on—or don’t know about—the original?
Steve’s Warrior Ethos series and book are recycled. He researched the Warrior Ethos and wove it throughout The Profession. He expanded the topic for the blog series and then packaged it as a book. One idea, different forms and packaging.
Until last week, I didn’t recognize recycling as a strategy—just something we did.
Also last week:
Jonathan Fields presented a beautiful recycle.
Jonathan tells an emotional story in his new book trailer. He took an experience that made an impact on him and retells it for the rest of us. It’s a great story. He took something old and made it new—in a beautiful way that I’m better for having heard it. And, yeah, his book trailer works. No question. Something to share.
And just to give you an example of a recycle with a stench, here’s another bit that hit this past week:
***When you read this article, notice the use of “Upcycling” which is another spin on recycle.
So that’s the scoop. We have our minds on recycling and avoiding creative landfills.
Recycling, upcycling, reusing, retelling, repackaging, re-whatevering. It’s one thing that has worked for Steve’s projects.