As writers, inspiration is one of the most important of the criteria for success. Without it, well, our writing ends up pretty lame.
A huge percentage of blogs see their demise before the six month milestone. Why?
Because people don’t know what to write about – writing becomes a chore and when that happens, you might as well seal it in. Here are 10 ways to become a more motivated, effective, and inspired online writer.
1. More books, fewer blogs
We all like blogs because they’re easy to digest, and we can come and go as we please and read from start to finish in a few minutes. We are also inherently reactive people, and blogs allow us to communicate and discuss with others immediately.
Books, however, contain scores of ideas not being dealt with in the blogosphere, and I guarantee if you take a weekend to read a book from start to finish, you’ll be chock full of writing material for weeks following. Take notes, “react” with yourself as you read, and pick up a book instead of only depending on Google Reader.
2. Listen to albums from beginning to end
Music is one of THE biggest sources of inspiration for yours truly – there’s something about the “right” song that can have you from feeling brain-dead with writers block to painting masterpieces like Michelangelo. What a lot of us, especially with modern technology, no longer do is listen to an album from start to finish.
Not only buy the entire album from an artist, but also listen to each song in order. Musicians are artists who usually order the track listings intentionally. Albums tell a story, they paint a picture; and isn’t that what we want to do as writers with our blogs?
3. Surround yourself with mentors
I use the word “mentor” loosely. I’ve never been a fan of choosing a single person as a mentor. Instead, I tend to surround myself with multiple “indirect” mentors – people I admire and respect; individuals who motivate and inspire me to be at my best; friends who challenge, question, and push me to think in new ways.
There’s truth in the old adage of you are the company you keep. So surround yourself with good company and you’re almost guaranteed to be a more inspired individual.
4. Cut out the negativity
While you surround yourself with amazing and inspiring mentors, go ahead and cut out the negativity – the dream zappers and naysayers who are intent on bringing you down to their level. You don’t need people like that in your life. Embellish the positive and diminish the negative in everything you do. You’ll be a much happier and fulfilled person if you have the right attitude.
5. Experiment with new mediums
Experimentation is probably the most important takeaway. In blogging, social networking, and everything else you do, if you’re not experimenting and pushing the envelope, you’re not maximizing your potential. As a writer, you have a gift for telling a story, so focus on telling that story in new ways. Use video, write an ebook, start a Guest Blog Grand Tour and let others challenge you to write about new topics. Keep hustling and growing.
6. Read blogs outside of your niche
If you write about social media, are you only reading inside the echo chamber? Why? Doing this exclusively becomes mind numbing. While I agree that you need to keep up with other writers in your field, take time to partake of completely unrelated sources. I read blogs about cooking, sports, PR, and music, to name a few.
They may not have anything to do with my “lifestyle design” genre of writing, but I can almost always walk away with a post idea inspired by something I’ve read. The best writers are those who can spot the intersection between different topics to reach a wider audience
7. Put yourself (literally) in new environments
I don’t know about you, but I am pretty terrible at getting things done when I’m sitting at home in my PJs. I’m most productive, and usually put together my best writing, when I find a comfy seat at the local coffee shop or settle into a nook with my headphones on in the back of a library. There’s something about surrounding yourself with caffeine and good books that works wonders. Opt for the local coffee joint over the living room when you have the chance.
8. Don’t be a slave to trends
Getting back to the fact that “we are inherently reactive people,” we like to follow trends, don’t we? How many “resolution” posts did you see the last couple weeks last December? Keep an eye on what people are doing, but push yourself to break away and set the trends. Simply become more proactive in everything you do.
9. Never underestimate the power of “unplugging”
OK, I lied. The experimentation I list as pathway 5 is an important takeaway, but the following is the most important for me. With Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Reader, Email, Itunes, Instant Messaging, and so on – there is a virtually limitless number of distractions out there. When I need to really focus and I want to put out my very best writing, I force myself to unplug.
Even now, as I write this, I’m sitting in a lake house with no internet. It is AMAZING what you can accomplish when you take time to unplug and “become one” with your writing. Set a specific day every week that you can disconnect and take time for yourself.
10. Have patience
Writing a masterpiece isn’t going to happen overnight. Bloggers get burned out because they start strong and then fizzle when the world doesn’t beat an immediate path to them. Above all, a strong community grounded in quality content takes time to develop, but as long as you are passionate about writing, the rest falls into place. Focus intently on creating exceptional content and reach out to others to share, and great things do indeed happen.