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Finding Inspiration: 5 Blogging Secrets Inside an iPod

By Tiffany Monhollon

Creativity, connection, inspiration. As a blogger, these are some of the most valuable commodities, regardless of your topic or niche. So it’s nice when they surface in the most unexpected of places.

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.

By Tiffany Monhollon | February 29, 2008

Topics: Authenticity, Blogging, Personal PR, Strategy, Success, Writing |

13 Responses to “Finding Inspiration: 5 Blogging Secrets Inside an iPod”

  1. Angela Says:
    March 1st, 2008 at 6:28 am

    Interesting concept, Tiffany.

    My husband makes sure my ipod (also red) is stocked with the hippest music, but I have to admit I usually fall back on Pearl Jam (does anyone else still listen to them?). I’ve been known to scream the lyrics to “Not For You” - I especially like this line: “All that’s sacred comes from youth/ dedication naive and true.”

    Thanks for your support, Tiffany. I’m really enjoying your blog and you’re teaching me a lot.

  2. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    March 1st, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    @ Angela - Thanks so much for the kind words and encouragement! There’s something comforting about those favorite old songs, isn’t there. Here’s what I have to admit - even though my iPod is also full of some of the hippest music around (thanks largely to my fiance!) nothing makes me let go more than popping in Amy Grant’s Heart in Motion (the first CD I ever owned). It makes me feel so cool, so young, so alive - and I even still remember all the lyrics.

    There’s something important about those anchoring things, especially music, isn’t there.

    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more from you!

  3. Julia Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Hi Tiffany!
    I think you may have stolen my iPod, because I love all of the songs you listed! I agree that inspiration can be found everywhere, the other day I was writing copy for a drug awareness website and I listened to the Postal Service “This Place is a Prison” and The Decemberist’s “Shankill Butchers” to get me in the mood… and it worked beautifully!
    Anyway, thanks very much for your wonderful posts. We all need a little inspiration now and again.
    - Julia
    PS: As a note to Angela… I listen to Pearl Jam. I grew up on them, and there is something wonderful about old standbys.

  4. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 8:27 am

    @ Julia - Glad to know other people love great music, too! Good tunes you mention as well. Inspiration is such a great thing, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Matt McLernon Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Really dig the music selection and messages pulled out of it. It’s interesting how it helps sometimes to work in two mediums at once (sound/text).

    On a random iPod note - I also just discovered the awesomeness of audiobooks. A really hyper-efficient way to get through a good book instead of listening to the same songs (just listened to a great business book in 3 days!).

  6. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    @ Matt - Thanks! Audiobooks are a favorite of my fiance - I find it hard a lot of times to listen to podcasts, etc. while I am working since I write so much of the time. It’s hard to have words going forth in two mediums. He’s a graphic designer, so it’s perfect for him. But I do enjoy a great audiobook, especially in the car.

    A recent favorite and hilarious listen is The Areas of My Expertise, by John Hodgeman: http://www.areasofmyexpertise.com/almanac.html

    Hi-larious! For more heavy reading though, I still love a great book. But that’s because I’m a notetaker, and I eat up the margins with flags and ideas. . .

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  12. Alexandra Says:
    March 1st, 2009 at 8:35 am

    I just power-read several of your posts, and I must say I am feeling enlightened and inspired! I have learned so much in the last 45 minutes! I’m going to keep reading because apparently I have so much more to learn. This blog has been by far the most helpful how-to guide to blogging I’ve found! Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with blogging. I especially enjoy (and can relate to) your flair for writing. –Alexandra

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