By Milli Thornton
SOMETIMES WHEN I’M feeling overwhelmed by my workload, or when I’m feeling sleep deprived, I’ll have one of those horrible existential moments when my life—and my writing—feels meaningless.
That’s always when my dinosaur brain comes up with some really supportive self-talk for my writing, such as, “What’s the point of working this hard for just a few loyal readers?” (about my travel blog) … or … “With the way the weather patterns are behaving these days, I could be swallowed by a tsunami coming off Lake Erie before I could ever write this, much less see it produced” (about my latest screenplay idea).
Luckily, I wasn’t in that frame of mind when I was electrified by this quote on Twitter a few days ago:
The GypsyNesters (@gypsynester)
A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
— Maya Angelou
I’ve actually been feeling so inspired and creative lately, I don’t have time to worry about whether any of it’s meaningless or not. I’m too busy trying to get my other work done and cram in some exercise and sunshine so I’ll have time to WRITE.
A great position to be in, but I can’t realistically expect to stay there forever. That’s why I saw that quote and wanted to put it in a place where it would always remind me. (See it posted in a permanent position in the top right corner of the blog?) Because I know someday I’ll need to be reminded that I was generously given some gifts by an intelligence far greater than my own—and you can assign to that whatever spiritual identity you prefer—and it’s up to me to sing my song.
Since the quote mentions birds, and because I love the power of symbolism, I decided to think about what kind of birdsong would be the most ideal for a writer. Rather than buying a book on Birdsong for Dummies, I decided to turn to my writing friend and avid birder Julia Munroe Martin from the wordsxo blog.
I asked Julia what she thought the ideal bird would be to symbolize writers singing their song and here’s what she said:
I would say that the Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) would symbolize the writer’s “song.” It is a rather unassuming bird (also described as “shy and retiring, seldom seen”) but has a beautiful song—described as haunting and melancholy and lovely on the Cornell Birds website, where you can listen to it.)
The Blogging Life and Remembering to Sing Like a Hermit Thrush
Do you ever find yourself worrying about how many comments you got on a blog post, or looking obsessively at your numbers of followers on social media? Sure, we all need to pay attention to these things for our writing careers . . . but if it eats into our writing time or erodes our passion for getting some new writing done, what are we really doing to ourselves?
My friend j of the Zebra Sounds blog (and the j’s Journey series here on the FoW blog) and I are always talking by email about how to remain true to ourselves, how not to be seduced by the numbers game and how to build our online presence based on true passion. j often shares some marvelous tidbit she found in her travels around the web, and recently I stumbled across one that I knew she would love:
No one will remember you for your blog rank or your follower count. They will remember you for the impact you made in real lives. This is what matters. Sometimes we have to make that impact even if it is not known or recognized. Compassion and giving is not about fame. It is about making the world a better place.
As writers, we can remember that “giving” is part of what we do. No matter whether you’re writing comedy (the healing power of laughter), laboring to finish your novel (readers of novels gain tremendous value from reading fiction), or penning articles for online health sites, you’re giving to the world through your creativity.
Serendipitously, while I was emailing with Lilly to ask for the origin of the quote above, I saw this on Twitter in another screen:
@Ineedtocreate (Steve supple)
Don’t have to be in a factory to be on a production line. You’ll be more productive doing your own thing.
What is your position on all this? Do you need reminders to put your “singing voice” ahead of the numbers game? Or can you share with us some powerful secret for staying connected to your true gifts? Please leave a comment and sing your truth!
Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse Coaching Service.