I really enjoyed reading Neil Young’s autobiography. It is felt throughout the book that this was not written by a ghost writer like most rock star biographies are. Young has amassed a large body of work throughout the years and by reading “Waging Heavy Peace” I’ve picked up few tips from the prolific musician about finding a writing muse. This advice can help you find inspiration for your writing online.
Let the muse come in
Sometimes it is best not to force inspiration, let it come to you. If you feel like procrastinating just do it. Rest in the fact that it helps you relax and eventually find the inspiration you need.
Just keep playing and let the muse back into the fold. Gently now. No searching. No working. No trying. Just let the spirit come back in and don’t be greedy.
Be ready when an idea comes to your head
This is something that I cannot stress enough. Always be on the lookout for good ideas and write them down as soon as you get them as you may easily forget some great ideas. I use a document that I sync between my devices as described here.
I don’t stop for anything. I just carried a pad with me and would write whenever something came to mind. I never had to try to write. I learned to be ready to write when an ideas came into my head, whether it was in school or wherever. I learned to drop everything else and pay attention to the song I was hearing. The more I did that, the more songs I heard.
Work on your writing every day. Practice is what makes you better. Write daily, write for a long period of time and you will see the progress you will be making.
Just write every day and you’ll be surprised what comes out.
Keep the ears and eyes open
It is important to look at the world with the “I have to write about this” mindset. If you do that you will find ideas everywhere.
I just do what I do and keep my ears and eyes open. Things are happening all the time. You put it out there and shit happens.
Don’t think too much
Don’t plan too much, don’t think too much, don’t wait too long. Just get your minimum viable product out there to the people, collect the feedback and progress from there.
With rock’n’roll, the more you think, the more you stink.
Don’t have any assumptions about your audience. They are not as experienced as you are in the topic you have expertise in. You are the knowledgeable one, that is why they come to you. Remembering this helps you get into the beginner mindset and create content that beginner’s will enjoy.
Having no knowledge is sometimes exactly what is needed to find a solution.
Work with people who get things done
Surround yourself with productive people, people that ship things. This will help motivate you to become more productive yourself.
I work well with people who want to get things done.
It is difficult to get honest feedback, especially if you ask your family and friends. You better get your product out to the real people in the real world as soon as possible in order to learn real opinions that will help you improve and progress.
Honesty, constructive criticism: those things are priceless in this game.
Take personal time for reflection
It is important to get offline and disconnect from all your devices once in a while. I call this digital downtime and I practice is regularly. Read a book, a newspaper or a magazine paper versions instead of online. Go for a walk. Explore your city. Talk to people.
Walking has always been good to me. I love to walk. Long walks on the ranch or over the lava in Hawaii are therapeutic and result in a clear head. I open up and start thinking about all kinds of ideas about music, life, my family, all matters personal. I take all of this to heart in my personal time of reflection.
Money doesn’t matter
Money may be the goal for you to start your project online but it will never work without you having a passion for what you are doing. Money cannot be the main goal as it will make you feel stressed and your product will suffer from having low quality thanks to all the forced monetization pushes. Let the money come to you naturally as you build your name and your audience.
Unlike me, they have mastered the art of monetizing their ideas. I have big ideas and very little money to show for them. I’m not complaining though. It’s not the money that matters; it’s doing things right and efficiently that is my goal. I just want to succeed at this badly.
Many people start too many projects but never go 100% into any of them. And it is the 100% time and effort that is needed for a project to thrive, grow and survive. Keep this in mind. One project that you put all your passion into is better than 10 “great” ideas that you never get live.
These days it’s all about closure of this and that for me. I have too many things to finish. How can I move on until I clean the slate?
Don’t try too hard
Don’t feel too stressed all the time. Working online and working for yourself is an amazing experience. Enjoy the ride, learn, explore and improve yourself as part of the journey.
Life is just a big test and if you try hard, you fail. If you don’t try too hard and fail a little but have a good time, maybe that is success.
Working online is not the same as your traditional career where you cannot wait to retire. Online you work on things that you enjoy and that gives you no reason to retire ever. Keep going!
So what do I do now that I’m 65? Retire? Nope. I can’t stop moving long enough to do that.
Not every dream can come true
Most online projects will die and will be forgotten. It is not easy to compete as there are so many other things going on online. Always keep this in mind and have realistic expectations when starting.
I accept that I cannot have every dream come true at once. Life is too short for that.
Enjoy the writing
And the last piece of advice in words of Neil Young:
I do enjoy writing and I hope someone gets something interesting out of this book. I already have. Now if I ever have to write a book that is not about me, I may be totally stumped and have writer’s block. We will see. Writing is very convenient, has a low expense, and is a great way to pass the time. I highly recommend it to any old rocker who is out of cash and doesn’t know what to do next.