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Get Inspiration to Come to You

April 2nd, 2009 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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Following on from the last couple of posts on the nature of inspiration, and how to find inspiration, now I’ll talk about a kind of automatic inspiration.This is the good bit. And this is really what I mean by surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you. This is the opportunity to allow the things that inspire you to become part of the fabric of your world. Because of my age and background, these things all revolve around the internet. The internet is a wondrous way of sharing information, and people are not wasting the opportunity. Take a look at the following:

  • Podcasts
  • RSS aggregators
  • Twitter

podcastNow admittedly, these will take some setting up initially – there is some searching involved. However, once set up, the information comes to you. I subscribe to several science and skeptical podcasts using iTunes, and update my iPod every weekend. I now have a bank of information to absorb over the week during my walks to and from train stations to get to work. If something catches your ear, many podcasts have an associated website where they keep show notes. These normally take the form of a series of links to further research on the topic in questions.

Blogs (as you know ;-) ), are another great source of information. But wouldn’t it be great if you could access all the blogs you are interested in in one place? No problem! Every blog has an RSS feed. I forget what that stands for (tsk), but it’s basically a stripped down, information only feed of all the entries in the blog. This lets you subscribe to the feed using an RSS aggregator of some kind. This is  where you gather all your feeds into one place. A lot of the time you can order them into categories or give them tags so that you can find them more easily. Now you have access to all of them at once, and it’s easy to see what new posts have been submitted to each of these blogs while you’ve been away from your computer. It all comes to you. There are loads of RSS aggregators (or RSS readers as they are also called) out there, and chances are you’ve got one already. You can subscribe straight through the Firefox web browser for example, and the new posts will be put into a handy dropdown in your toolbar. Apple Mail also has a way of showing the blogs you’ve subscribed to in the left-hand column, beneath all of your email folders. There are loads of free ones too. Personally I use Google Reader, as it’s a web app, so is available on every computer with an internet connection (plus my iPod Touch, and even my Nintendo Wii), and it is easy to arrange feeds into categories.

rss logoTo subscribe to a feed, just look for this symbol, either on the site itself, or in your browsers address bar. Depending on the reader you are using, this alone will subscribe you, or you may need to copy and paste the URL into your reader.

twitter logoTwitter is perhaps not the most obvious choice, but I am loving Twitter for exactly this purpose at the moment. Twitter is a kind of microblogging service. You sign up, and get to write 140 characters about something and post it. This goes out to anyone who happens to be looking at everything coming out of Twitter, or are looking at Twitterers (‘Tweeters’? Actually, I think ‘Tweeps’ is the popular term at the moment. That may change tomorrow),  in their local area, plus it goes out to anyone following you. Following is the thing that makes Twitter powerful. There’s a whole load of people out there who are interested in the same things as you, and they’re providing links, talking about events, and responding to questions all the time. All you have to do is ‘listen’.

All this does sound like a bit of work, but it’s not nearly as much as it looks. For Twitter, start by searching for celebrities that you’re interested in, or friends that you know are on there. Don’t know who to follow, then take a look at my Twitter profile for ideas. Other than that, the whole thing kind of snowballs and feeds off itself. You only need to find two good blogs or podcasts that you like and it’s not long before you are referred to a couple more from within those posts or episodes. Believe me, you will soon have what feels like a little community of like-minded people feeding you information. And don’t forget, podcasters often have blogs and visa versa, and many of them are on Twitter too. And many of them know each other. It’s this fact that means your collection grows, but it’s brought into sharp focus when you see the conversations between the people you are following on Twitter. It’s interesting to watch in itself.


One other reason why inspiration doesn’t come easily any more might simply be that I am out of practice. It sounds odd to say you can ‘practice’ at being inspired, but as long as there are activities you can do towards something (see above), you should be able to become better at it. In theory, this means that the more you look for inspiration, the more used to this activity your brain becomes and the more automatic it becomes. The big upside of this is that even if we don’t feel inspired very often now, the more we graze on our interests, the more we will be inspired and the easier it will come.