Guest post by John Anyasor of HiLife2B
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about the authenticity of bloggers. Surprisingly, it’s something that isn’t done much in the blogosphere. There tends to be so much focus on ‘writing great posts’ and ‘creating content’ that we seem to have forgotten what blogging is really about.
Blogging is about the stories behind the blogger.
Ever since I revealed my true story on my own blog, I’ve gotten an outpouring of comments about the questions I posed about the state of the self help blog.
The main problem with the typical self help blog? There’s no story for the reader to relate too.
Yes, we know that ‘if we try hard enough, we can achieve anything’, but where is your proof? What have you achieved that makes me believe what you’re saying?
Make no mistake, there are people who have the guts to show people how they live and the stories they’ve made in their lives. But you know what I’ve noticed? These people are living conventional lives. They aren’t trying to achieve anything more than happiness in life within the status quo.
You’re probably asking yourself, “How does any of this apply to me?” Don’t worry, it does. The fact is that you can’t just sit down and expect great stories to emerge from thin air. People wait and wait for the right moment of inspiration, the right time for their pen to strike paper… and they end up waiting for hours, days, even weeks.
The lesson that must be learned here is:
Life inspires creativity
A blogger who merely shares blog tips is easily forgotten. A writer who gives advice on how to be a better writer isn’t memorable. But the struggling author who is trying his best to make his work known and gives advice on how to deal with failure along the way—that is someone we want to get to know!
His life is inspiring and his passion to achieve the impossible is what people crave.
Tim Ferriss got his book, now a New York Times bestseller, rejected 26 times before his 27th proposal changed his life forever. And do you know why it ended up exploding onto the world? Because he lived his life in a way that inspired people.
He found a way to work less and make more: what’s not to like? And look, he teaches you how to do it too.
At this point, you might be thinking, “I’m no Tim Ferriss (or any other celebrity for that matter). Heck, my life’s not even interesting. How is this going to help me become a better blogger?”
To this, I say you’re wrong. Your life is actually more interesting than you know.
What Jon Morrow and a nice cat lady taught me
Provided you have an interesting take, the everyday lives of normal people can actually be quite insightful. Take Yasmine, a cat lady who creates art for a living. Looking at her blog, it doesn’t take long to see what inspires it. Maybe living with cats isn’t exciting for some people, but for her, it’s a joy. That’s what inspires her art!
The life she spends with her cats drives her creativity.
But maybe you think cats are boring, and you disagree. She’s creative, not me, right? You’re missing the point. It’s not about her. It’s not about Tim Ferriss.
It’s about you and what YOUR life is about.
Ask yourself, is my life interesting to me? And if not, how can I make it enjoyable so that it can inspire me to create?
The experts will say that it’s not good to start a profitable blog around something you love.
“Pop quiz. Which is better:
A) Starting a blog about a topic you are interested in, and then convincing the world to listen to you?
B) Starting a blog about a topic the world is interested in, and then convincing yourself to write about it?
If you chose B, congratulations. You chose correctly.
Without even realizing it though, most people choose A. They start a blog about a subject they want to write about, and then they use every psychological trick in the book to get people to read it.
And sometimes, it works. If you’re a good enough marketer, you can prop up any blog or product, no matter how bad it is.
But why go through the trouble?”
Why go through the trouble? Because it’s what you love that pushes you to write.
I love testing assumptions and experimenting on life. I enjoy writing about the pink elephants in the room that everyone tries to pretend don’t exist. I could go on for ages about doing the impossible.
Why choose what everyone else is interested in when I don’t even care? Rest assured, a blog built around the pleasures of others (and not your own) will not last.
This post was written with the purpose of becoming a better blogger, but with the intention of helping you become a better human being. And what’s the best way humans learn how to get better at things they want to get better at?
Through example, that’s how.
Here are two steps to getting better at writing and life, in general:
1. Write about what excites you
By writing about what excites you, I don’t necessarily mean write about what makes you jump out of your chair with joy. ‘What excites you’ can also mean ‘what pisses you off’ or ‘what moves you to tears’. In other words, write about what emotes you.
What is making you mad right now? Share this on your blog. What makes you feel the most joy? Convey that emotion in your writing.
On my blog, I wrote about how I angry I was that I missed out on the world because my parents’ constant hate for each other. It not only allowed people to relate to me more, but it helped me feel so much better about myself. I no longer hold ill will towards the past.
2. Be willing to share pain
This might be hard for many people. Actually there’s a chance that none of you will follow this advice. I’m willing to take that risk.
The perfect life is something that none of us have. Most of us are still trying to get it, even knowing that the perfect lifestyle doesn’t exist. But you know what? On our journey to reach our dreams, we’ve been through a lot of pain. Remember Tim Ferriss? People could relate to him because he had been through much hardship in the beginning. Years of failure plagued his mind, but alas he finally came out on top!
Even Leo Babauta, the purveyor of one of the top blogs in the world, experienced much hardship to get where he is today. It is the pain that draws people to him and forces them to take his advice much more seriously. He has been to the edge and back.
We don’t simply connect to words on a page, but the stories behind those words. The life behind the prose.
Dusti talked about her imperfect journey of minimalism. Is she Shakespeare? No! You, don’t have to be a “talented” writer to BE a good writer.
Ash brought forth her painful story of endurance which eventually led to online success. Is she a world-renowned poet? Not to my knowledge.
Life inspires creativity, not the other way around
If your life doesn’t interest you, you have to be willing to make it interesting. Reading about how to write better isn’t going to help you unless you’re a beginner. Devouring self help isn’t going to change you. You have to write about what moves you. Reading about what moves you and then writing about it — that is a brilliant start.
As I near the end, I’d like to quote a post from my blog about authenticity (edited for coherence). I hope it encourages you to write with great passion:
In a world where it’s easy as pie to find someone who [writes well], it’s no longer profitable to pick the person with the most qualifications. Yes, the world wants smart people. Yes, the world wants creative people. But most of all…
The world wants REAL people! People by which others can identify. So expose [yourself] and push past your insecurities. Give the world what it wants.
So, I guess the question is: are you living a life that inspires creativity?