Attention: Publish Your Work

There is an important point many creatives miss: You’ve got to actually show people your work.

Whether you are a writer, musician, programmer or filmmaker, you sell yourself short by keeping your work private.

What people don’t realize is that it’s not any logical, reason that keeps them from doing it. It’s just fear.

You probably don’t even realize it, but it is fear. Every male reader knows what approach anxiety feels like. Even after you outgrow it, you remember. If you ever paused to compare, showing your work would feel strangely similar.

Imagine you publish some of your work through Twitter or better yet, a blog with a million unique visitors a month. Even if its so bad the trash won’t take it, what is the worst that can happen? Pause and make a mental list of two things. If you are creative in any field, pay attention here.

Whether you imagined  (1) criticism, (2) some form of embarrassment, (3) outrage or (4) personal insult, congratulations! Those are good results, because there is something far worse: Being ignored.

For any creator, the results listed above are all awesome, because it means you drew enough attention to warrant action. Good job! You successfully shoved your way into another human being’s conscious experience. And they didn’t like it — this time.

But you’re doing something right, because it was interesting.

Now compare that to being ignored completely. When your work goes unnoticed, it’s as if it never existed in the first place. So post it anyway. Your network will grow from it in the long run. If you’re going to make a career out of it, you’ll be making fans for the rest of your life. But getting past the fear part is crucial.

So here’s an experiment to try out. It is intended to reveal how little harm comes from making your work public. Keep your motivations completely private, and tell no one you are doing this as an experiment. (You can tell me if you like, but your friends should not know. It will ruin the effect.)

Instructions:

  • Think of a field you have no talent in whatsoever. Something you’ve never even tried, and no one associates with you. For instance, I am a musician, so I won’t choose music. I can go with drawing, because nobody knows that I draw. It’s an insignificant part of who I am. (If you’re stuck: painting, cooking, writing, marketing, being a yodeler. Recording sounds with your smartphone is an easy one, since you have the tools already.)
  • Record yourself doing something from your selected field. Internally, you should feel complete emotional detachment — pretend you’re at work helping someone. Do you care? No. Do you want it to get done? Yes.
  • Put in as little effort as you want.  If it comes out well, you did this wrong. Go back to step one and try something else.)
  • Remember, this is an experiment. If you feel any attachment to the work you’ve done, start again. Now for the important part…
  • Join the largest local Facebook group you can find. Bonus points if it has at least some of your friends in it.
  • Post a link to your work. For best results, write this in your accompanying text: “This drawing, which shows great potential, will be considered for many awards! Post a comment below.”
  • Wait and enjoy the results.

You know what’s going to happen when you do this. Since you don’t have any attachment to the outcome, you’re free to observe the comments. The visceral experience will free you from a lot of misconceptions.

Look for comments that would sting if they were about work you really cared about. Take a moment to feel how little you care about whatever is said. Then consider whether the flack will make your life will be any different in a week. Probably not. Later, you can remember how unimportant the comments were to you.

If you have your own ideas on how to beef up the hate mail, feel free to do so.

Whatever happens, remember: You made them look.

 

 

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