Lately, I’ve been finding myself in hyper-go-mode. And to be honest, it’s a challenge just to get in my self-imposed mandatory one post a week minimum. And I’m the type that thrives under pressure. So I know it’s bad when I’m getting only four hours of sleep a night and still struggling to manage my to-do list, plan my upcoming wedding, and keep my house in shape.
So I’ll take my inspiration when it comes. And today, it came through the lyrics that reached my ears from my trusty red iPod. Since I work with words so much as a part of my job, I don’t usually listen to music with lyrics during the day. But, since I had a day with a little different pace, I let myself tune in to some music with words. And the funniest thing happened: almost everything I heard seemed to be about – blogging.
Songs I’ve listened to a hundred times took on a whole new meaning. My mind, desperately seeking a connection, inspiration, made meaning out of the most unlikely of sources. Here’s what I heard:
1. “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.” The opening line of Stars’ album Set Yourself on Fire is a perfect illustration of what it can be like to run a successful blog, especially if you’re aiming to avoid the lazysphere. When you have no time, when life and work and relationships in your real life take priority, you have to find the passion and inspiration within yourself to keep going. There are millions and millions of blogs out there. Some are people’s full time jobs. Others, like mine, are a professional “hobby” in my “spare” time. What’s going to set yours apart? Is your passion enough to drive you?
2. “Everything looks perfect from far away.” It may seem pretty simple to create and manage a popular blog. After all, people do it all the time. The truth is, the time, effort, and pressure are intense. Worth it, but intense. So it’s easy for bloggers to get wrapped up into all the activity, research, writing and networking that it takes. Caught up in microcelebrity, unaware that to everyone else in our lives, we’re just “waving from such great heights.” Even though the Postal Service (or Iron and Wine, depending on your mood) didn’t mean to tell you this, take heed: “Come down now.” If your blog is consuming you to the point of obsession, take a minute to step away. Don’t obsess over your stats all day long. Spend time, in person, with your friends. Enjoy your life. Trust me, it will help your blogging too.
3. “You can write, but you can’t edit.” The catchy hook from Regina Spektor’s Edit hits on an important and undervalued skill in blogging: the ability to self-edit. Everyone’s got something to say, and most bloggers can write about it. That’s why we’re here. But can you edit on the macro level and tailor your thoughts and ideas in a way that forms a cohesive, valuable topic or niche? At the micro level, do you have the discipline to fine-tune each word so that your content emphasizes what’s important and cuts the rest, or do you fall in love with your own words so much that what you’re trying to say never gets across?
4. “Are you only being nice because you want something?” Thom Yorke asks in The Eraser. Then he confesses that’s his motivation. The truth is, for better or worse, that’s also the case for pretty much every blogger I know. After all, no one’s making us do this. What exactly we want out of it differs – a platform, a business, an income; relationships, inspiration, change. So admit that first – that you’re doing this because you want something. Define that something. Embrace it. Don’t let it do you in. And then realize that since everyone in this grand conversation called the blogosphere is here because we want something, our best way to get what we want is to help other people get what they’re after first.
5. “You’re the same when you’re living.” Maybe the rest of this Broken Social Scene song (Stars and Sons) doesn’t apply, maybe it does, but I love it nonetheless, and I love that line. Because it’s become my motto as I’ve dug deeper into the blogosphere – to be the same person every place I write online as I am if you met me anywhere. That’s because all the best bloggers are those who write like they live, what they live, how they think. That’s what makes them real, authentic, interesting – and successful.
Where are you looking for inspiration? What lyrics move you? Feel free to share your favorites in the comments, and don’t forget:
Inspiration is everywhere. Find it. Let it find you. Be moved.