“Books are made out of books.”Cormac McCarthy
The tricky thing about blogging is that there’s always something stopping you.
You often stare at the blank page, wondering whether what you’ll write will be good enough. You get distracted. Or, you have this idea that you really love, but… you soon realize someone else has already written about it.
What is the point of even blogging if what you want to write about has already been covered by countless others?
Well… the truth is that almost all my most popular blog posts are about topics that have been covered by others. Let’s call them universal topics. Inspiration. Motivation. How to deal with procrastination. How to fail your way to success.
What I blog on my main blog is the sum total of all that I have ever internalized: a bit of Mark Manson, a bit of Tom Bilyieu, a little bit of Tony Robbins. Jocko Willink, David Goggins, Andy Frisella. You get the idea.
But the thing is that people can’t get enough of certain topics because they form the foundation of who we are as human beings.
Your uniqueness as a blogger is not about writing something no one else even thought to write, but about the perspective from which you cover those topics.
No one can write a blog post the same way you do.
Sure, there are thousands of other bloggers out there writing about motivation. Or inspiration. Or travel. Or even gardening.
But it’s not so common to read about motivation from a twenty-something Romanian kid, a college dropout, who has suffered for years and years from high functioning depression.
That’s the creative strength you can tap into — all the while blogging about the same universal topics as everyone else in your niche.
Originality is a pitfall most bloggers fall for.
This post is meant to help you unleash the creative fire that is often stifled by you presuming you need to be original to be successful.
It took me a long time to figure this out myself. Actually, this is a lesson that I often need to be reminded of.
I often pressure myself to be original. To uncover some hidden depths of the human soul that have been locked away.
The thing is, trying to do that is a recipe for disaster. From there to overthinking your process is but a step. Besides, inspiration often tends to evaporate under pressure.
Most often than not, trying to be original is a sure-fire way to being creatively bankrupt in ten blog posts or less.
So, instead of trying to be original, I think about you. My reader. I ask myself what is it that you’d like to read about. I think about past blog posts that you’ve enjoyed enough to comment on. I remind myself that you want to read about my own journey, about the way I dealt with the obstacles and failure.
I have to remind myself that you don’t read my words for the information they share, but for the way you can derive a sense of purpose because of the way I used the information I am now sharing with you.
Whenever I do this instead of trying to come up with some idea that no one’s ever had in the history of the written word I can punch the keys with unbelievable speed. There’s this sense of clarity and purpose that translated into sentences that are clear and concise.
I know what I want to share with you, and I know what you need to write in order to do what I want you to do.
How to make sure your blog posts feel different.
If you are blogging about the same topics as everyone else, then how do you stand out? How do you make sure your reader doesn’t feel like they’ve already read the exact same thing, or worse, feel like you’ve wasted their time?
In other words: You don’t want to just repeat what others are saying. You want to add to the conversation. No matter how popular (and overloaded with information) a topic, the goal is to find a perspective that makes your blog post different and engaging.
Here are three simple ways to do that:
Write about your life story.
I don’t know you, but I know this about you: the life you’ve lived is different from other people’s. This means you have some unique experiences that you can share with us.
But odds are that you often take them for granted, or you are locked in the blogger’s default setting, which is that of a teacher repeating the same lesson over and over again.
No. Write about your story. Write about your experience with depression, write about your own struggles to become successful. Write about your own way of taking care of your garden.
Pinpoint the most interesting, insightful, and relatable events from your life and weave them into a blog post that your readers can learn from.
Connect seemingly unrelated dots
Just like with your life’s story, you have a compilation of knowledge and skills that’s unique to you: the books you have read, the jobs you’ve had, the education you received, or the skills you have acquired.
The most interesting blog posts are those who connect two seemingly unrelated dots: what can history teach us about blogging? What about using philosophy to draw out a step-by-step guide to financial success?
Take for instance this post of mine about Zen Buddhism and blogging.
What are some dots that you can connect?
Write like yourself.
The way you style your sentences, the length of your paragraphs, the words you use, the narrative, the tone, — these, and a lot more, are all up to you.
Sure, it may take some experimentation and time to get those things right, but developing a writing style is a sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd.
After all, when I was 17 years old I’d write Magical Realism like I was Gabriel Garcia Marquez when he didn’t feel like writing. I was obsessed. And I kept writing like the old master until I discovered Hemingway. Until I figured out that brevity was more my thing, because English is not my first language.
Trying to write like a dozen other writers over the years, including Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Chuck Palahniuk, Albert Camus, and others, and I finally began to write like myself. Kind of.
The thing is, developing your style is a never-ending quest. It should always change, to the point that reading the words you wrote a few years ago should feel like reading the words of someone else.
Blogging is a simple process. It is us, bloggers, who make is seem so terrifying and complicated.
When you boil it down to the essentials, all you need is your mind, something to type on, and a bit of time.
A blank page gives you the freedom to create anything you want, as long as you don’t try to create everything at once. Or something that no one ever created before.
If you let go of your desire to be original, if you just let your mind roam, if you just let yourself rummage through your brain for all the wonderful ideas that you’ve internalized over the years, you might, every once in a while, come up with something refreshing and unexpected.
Blogging is simple. It’s about punching the damn keys. One word at a time.
If you need inspiration, just take look at what the people have been fascinated about since the beginning of forever.