Weekly Inspiration #1: One year later. | Blog Post by Rob Crews (originally posted on 3rd January, 2017)
This is my new idea — a weekly post brimming full with inspiring ideas and great methods for turning ideas into action.
As this is the first edition, you’ll need to bear with me a little. I’ll start by explaining why I’m doing this…
WHY OH WHY?
When I started Find A Spark, I was a little bit scared. My previous excursions into uploading things on the internet had usually ended up looking something like this:
I hadn’t written anything much before and I didn’t really know how to write a blog. I knew I’d learnt about a ton of interesting stuff and wanted to share my knowledge but I didn’t really know how to go about it.
So I did what any mildly obsessive aspiring blogger would do — researched the hell out of blogging and read guides on ‘dominating your niche’. I wanted to blog and I wanted it to be successful at it. That’s all I knew.
Fast forward to today. I’m a year older, a year wiser (or perhaps I’ve just got a year more of mistakes under my belt). I’ve written posts, guides, eBooks. You name it, I’ve churned it out.
The thing is, it all feels a little… impersonal. Focusing on dominating my niche = focusing on trying to make perfect content. Perfect content isn’t real, it doesn’t exist. Attempting to create perfect content just meant removing the things that I felt were imperfect (like my goofy idiosyncrasies). But without those things it isn’t real.
Also, other unintended side-effects: when trying to make a ‘successful’ blog, it’s likely you’ll:
- Not enjoy writing all that much because everything is focused on some far-off potential success, rather than the fun of just writing
- Therefore end up writing less than you would have done otherwise
- Therefore have less chance of ‘succeeding’
So it’s kind of self-defeating. No doubt there are plenty of determined people who have taken those blog success guides, replicated their tips and had a ‘successful’ blog. Perhaps they even found a way to enjoy doing it. Fair play to them. I think there are far more people who have had a similar experience to me.
So where does that leave me now? Despite the doom and gloom of the dominating my niche approach, it’s actually led me to somewhere pretty great. I’m over my fear over writing and familiar with the ins and outs of blogging. I’m ready to write the blog posts that I’m actually meant to write.
Which, to finally answer the WHY OH WHY question, is the reason that I’m writing this post. I think a weekly roundup post will allow me to just write about the stuff that matters to me. In the past I’ve often found something awesome that I want to share but then failed to write a whole ‘perfect’ post about it. Imperfect meant the idea was ditched, never to be seen again.
Writing a weekly roundup will allow me to tell you guys about the cool stuff that I’ve found. That was what Find A Spark was meant to be about.
I’ll still write some standalone posts on individual topics but the roundup post will be for everything else that used to fall through the cracks.
I’m pretty excited…
I need your help
If this is going to work, I need your help. This is time for some Amanda Palmer-style asking. What I’d love more than anything is for you guys to let me know what you think! I’ll be sharing ideas. Sometimes they’ll be half-formed. I need you guys to help me fill in the gaps and tell me when I’m being an idiot.
There’s a gazillion ways to contact me. I’ll list the best ways (in order — top is the best way).
- Via the comments on this post — scroll all the way to the bottom
- Via commenting on Facebook posts
- Via Twitter-ing at me
- Via email
If you find another way to contact me, good work! I just might not check it that often…
In my experience, trying to create a fixed structure for things goes a little like this:
- You spend an unbelievably long time defining the structure, making sure it’s perfect
- You spend an unbelievably short amount of time actually doing the thing you set out to do before you realise the structure isn’t quite perfect
- Rinse and repeat
Basically, it’s a major source of procrastination for me. So I’ll be keeping these posts beautifully unstructured. If you’d like me to include something, let me know! If I’ve stopped including something that you liked, let me know!
A lot of the stuff that matters to me falls into one of the following categories:
- Ideas that inspire me (Sparks)
- Ways to get better at turning ideas into action
So that’s what I’ll mostly write about.
This week’s inspiration
I’ve gone on long enough about why I’m writing this. Now for the actual important stuff.
I’ve been reading…
This week I’ve been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. I actually started it back in November, dipping in and out periodically. The first half was kind of a struggle but I sensed that it would all be worth it.
It was worth it. I steamrolled through the second half in a day — I couldn’t put it down. The downside of this was that my brain felt like it had been melted. The numerous upsides included:
- I learnt about the parallels between the Ancient Greek concept of Arete and the Hindu concept of Dharma. If you’ve got any interest in Eastern spirituality, read the book! These parallels are seriously fascinating — they suggest a link between ancient Western thought and traditional Eastern thought that I didn’t have a clue about
- I got to the section where Pirsig talks about practical ways to find greater ‘Quality’ in your life. In my eyes, finding Pirsig’s ‘Quality’ is equivalent to finding a sense of presence or mindfulness. I also definitely see some links to flow and extrinsic / intrinsic motivation
- I reached the end of the book’s narrative, which I really enjoyed. The book combines discussion of Pirsig’s ideas on philosophy with a recalling of a trip he took with his son. It’s pretty moving.
If I had to summarise the book in one sentence, I’d say… ‘Ideas on how to live a better life in a Western world focused on the material’. If that grabs you, check it out. If it doesn’t, probably check it out anyway. I wouldn’t want my terrible attempt at a summary to put you off.
Alongside that I’ve also been reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. It’s an explanation and description of Tibetan Buddhist practice, aimed towards a Western audience. Seriously fascinating, particularly when read alongside Zen. More on that in a later post.
I’ve been watching…
A really interesting TED talk on why, despite automation, there are still so many jobs available.
That’s it, folks
I hadn’t intended to write this post this evening — it just kinda flowed out of me. That’s a good sign, I think. But now it’s late and I’m tired. So this is the end of Weekly Inspiration #1.
If you like this, please let me know. The simplest way is by liking the post on Facebook. The more likes my posts get, the more people Facebook decides to show them to. So it really does make a difference — I really appreciate it.
I ended up writing 10 of these weekly inspiration posts in 2017. Here are the others.
Also published on Medium.