Blogging: Counterpoint

“Produce content that your audience wants to read.”

(Common advice for bloggers)

“Produce content that feels meaningful or important to you. You won’t resonate with everyone, but your tribe will love your work. In other words, Be Yourself, don’t contort yourself to be what you think other people want you to be.”

(Better advice)

Who embodies the latter advice (in my opinion)?

  • PewDiePie (probably the world’s most famous YouTuber)
  • Flume (musical genius)

Can you think of other people who do this, and are also hugely successful?

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How to Get Inspired as a Writer

Since my Spiritual Awakening on 13th August 2019, I’ve been publishing an average of 2-3 blog posts per day. They’re on a wide variety of subjects, and they’re usually pretty substantial.

How the hell do I have the energy? Where do all my writing ideas come from? What lessons might be useful for other bloggers?

Building Skill

Well, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t my first rodeo. I started writing blogs way back in the mid-2000s. Sadly I didn’t keep any copies of my older work, but there’s one thing I’m pretty certain about: my writing sucked.

I mean, it wasn’t totally worthless, but I’m now a much better writer than I was back then.

How do you become a better writer? The most important thing is to keep practising.

Just start. Do a bad job at first. Then try to make it a bit better. Keep repeating this, over and over again. You’ll gradually improve over many weeks and months. Be patient.

Identifying Meaning

My inspiration… Hmmm… that’s harder for me to put into words.

For a few months now, I’ve been trying to follow Jordan Peterson’s advice: choose to work on whatever feels most meaningful to you.

At first it’s kinda tricky to work out what’s meaningful to you. In which case, you can literally start anywhere, as long as it feels at least a little worthwhile.

I’ve repeatedly been drawn back to writing, especially in the last month. It feels like I have a lot to say that’s important (at least to me).

Also… it’s not every day you undergo drug-induced psychosis. I realised this has been a pretty rare experience for me recently, so I wanted to capture as many of my insights and thoughts as I could – hence this blog.

Dealing with Critics

One of the hardest parts of writing is learning to deal with criticism. At first, it can really sting, especially if it’s coming from someone whom you respect greatly.

I wonder how many potential bloggers have never put finger to keyboard because they are scared of being judged by others. All that creativity, wasted. It’s so sad.

My advice would be to learn to trust your own judgement about your work. If you are happy with your writing, that’s the most important thing.

If someone criticises your work, see if there’s something valid in that criticism which you can learn from. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t.

Try not to take criticism personally. For me, this is often really difficult. When a friend repeatedly called me stupid for writing this blog, I decided to end the friendship. If he couldn’t find a way to support my creative endeavours, then I guess he wasn’t really my friend.

However, I managed to learn something from his criticism. It actually made me even stronger and more fearless.

I now believe in myself more than ever. I know that I don’t have to accept as true everything that other people say about me or my work.

The most important thing I keep telling myself:

“It doesn’t really matter what other people think of my work. If I’m happy with it, that’s the most important thing. You can’t please all the people all the time… and you shouldn’t even try. Trust that your work will resonate with the right people.”

Bollinger, R. (2019)

When you have this level of confidence in yourself, the creativity just starts to pour out of you.

Other Writing Tips

Generally, I start thinking about an idea for a blog post several days before I actually begin to write it. I mull over ideas, see how they connect to other things I’ve been thinking about.

I don’t force myself to write. I wait until my unconscious mind has mulled over some ideas for a few days. When my mind is ready for me to start writing, I just get a feeling that the time is right/write.

And then, when I sit down to write, I just need to think in general terms about what I want to say… and the words just flow out of me.

If I get stuck on a certain topic or idea, I just wait for a while, maybe do something else for a bit. Sooner or later, my unconscious mind will figure out a way past the blockage. It’ll let me know when I’m ready to continue.

I also recommend listening to your favourite music as you write. For me, it reminds me strongly of who I am. It boost my confidence in myself. And it helps get my creative juices flowing.

Simple Way to be Happier

Ever noticed how some of the very best advice is incredibly simple?

Yeah… the best advice is simple in theory, but usually much harder to implement!

Behaviour change is often difficult and requires us to be patient with ourselves. But I believe it’s still worth doing.

Here’s one of the simplest yet truest facts of life I’ve noticed repeatedly over the years…

“Happy people tend to focus on what they like, have and want. Unhappy people tend to focus on what they don’t like, don’t have and don’t want.”

Bollinger, R. (2019)

So, if you want to be happier, you need to change what you think about.

When you think about the above, what objections are popping into your mind? Do you feel fully justified in the way you look at the world? You probably do! But I’d ask yourself to just try out thinking differently, even if it feels dumb or weird.

Your brain is very good at pulling you closer to things you focus on. When you’re first learning to drive and a car comes towards you in the other lane, if you focus your eyes on the car, there’s a good chance you’ll accidentally start to steer towards it.

As you gain experience driving, you learn to keep your eyes focussed on the road ahead, in other words: where you want to go.

And it’s similar in other areas of your life…

Instead of focussing negatively on problems, see if there’s a more positive way to think about the situation. What could you do to make the situation better?

Instead of dwelling on all the things you feel your life is missing, practice gratitude each day for the small but important things in life… the ability to breath (mostly) clean air, sunshine on your face, the freedoms we take for granted (at least in the West).

I’m not saying that doing this consistently is easy. It’s actually really hard to change our thought patterns! But a good first step is to try to notice when you’re being negative. Ask yourself if there’s a better way to think about the situation. Notice if your new thoughts change the way you feel.

Be gentle and patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s taken me many years to think more positively on a fairly consistent basis. I still have days when I feel utterly depressed and hopeless. But thankfully, those days seem to be becoming fewer and fewer.

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