Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fill-in-the-blank

Would you like to share your _________with the world, but don't know how? [Fill in the blank with the creative activity of your choice.] 


I have some suggestions for you, but they come with a warning. You will need to be patient, and willing to work for it. As far as I know, there isn't a magical solution, except maybe luck, and if I knew how to make luck come when I hollered for it, I'd be reclining on a tropical beach right now instead of simultaneously typing this post and dreading the approach of yet another Monday. 

Marketing your own creative endeavors is extraordinarily hard. First and foremost, it's difficult because most of us are not accustomed to admitting that we like our own art and we want it be successful. If self-promotion isn't done right, it can seem rude or vain, and God knows we don't want that.You need to be honest with yourself  - you can write the world's most touching love story, but unless you submit that story to an appropriate editor, you don't have a chance in the world of ever publishing it. The same goes for creating a sculpture such as the world has never seen. If it's collecting dust in your living room and you're not at least trying to pimp it out, I wouldn't start spending that big-ass art check yet. Editors, publishers, and gallery directors have piles and piles of material from which to choose and will never, ever beat down the door to get yours. The bottom line is - you need to invest some time and research into determining which venues are most appropriate for your work. Do yourself a favor and set the bar to be commensurate with your experience and talents. We're all in the process of learning.  If we acknowledge that and continue to strive, we will improve.

Bear in mind that there are many different definitions of 'successful'. For instance, I'm currently working with a writing group. For two of us, publication is ultimately the desired result and would certainly constitute success. A third participant doesn't give a hoot if he ever gets published, he just wants to successfully write his story. Either kind of accomplishment, or the millions of other possible variations, is entirely valid.  In fact, I usually have a graded approach to success. This approach helps me to set small, doable goals and serves several purposes. First, setting goals you can achieve will help build confidence. This is important, especially when you're first beginning and feel like your heart is being ripped out of your chest and torn into bloody pulsating bits each time you submit a story or post some of your work in a public forum.  Believe me, I've been there.  Am STILL there, most days. But you know what?  Forcing yourself to do it will help you grow and change as a person and as an artist.  

I'm going to level with you. My ultimate goal is this: I will become a millionaire when my novel tops the NY Times bestseller list. My new-found fame immediately propels my art into a frenzy, sought the world over.  Suddenly, I have fuck-you money. I can now quit my job and stay home and write the rest of the books in the series, while taking occasional art breaks and dragging my handsome husband, The Don, to old and crumbling cities in Europe. Lest you think this whole thing is about money, I'd like to admit, the money wouldn't suck. Let's all participate in a moment of honesty. Once all the basic Legos of your life have been fit together (and mine are), $$$$ makes happiness a little easier to come by and those who say otherwise are simply justifying the fact that they don't have much at the moment. I totally get that.  Sweet Christ.  I have  digressed.  I'm trying to say that I think the freedom to order my life in the way that I want, to not be hemmed in by a 9-5 job and to able to pursue creative endeavors would be the true prize.  But for the record, I'll also take the money.  Thank you very much.

The chances of the last paragraph ever coming true are pretty freaking slim.  I know that, but I try not to tell the artist/writer part of me. She's very optimistic and hopeful and I'd like to keep it that way. The important thing is that I'm thoroughly enjoying the process along the way.  

Okay, you've decided that being successful is more important than what others think about you. Good first move, now what?  This next part is the hard part, but it has been fantastically rewarding and enjoyable for me.  You must diligently and relentlessly network.  See, when you first begin to create your social media empire, your loving and supportive family & friends will comment and like your posts.  This is mostly because they feel sorry for you, but don't let that bother you. You'd do that same for them, right?  This initial rush of  friends & family is wonderful and necessary, but most of us will need to eventually add others to our network.  Be fair!  You can't expect your Mom to buy ALL of your paintings.  What!?  Is she made of money?  

Personal observation:  It's entirely possible that I've had way too much coffee and suffering an extremely short attention span, but still I persevere with this post. How's that for commitment?

You need to start interacting with others on social media sites.  Take the time to send someone a note who follows your FB page or Twitter posts.  If you're interacting with writers, take the time to occasionally read the things they post and give good, engaging feedback to them.  This is the part that takes a lot of time and doesn't necessarily yield immediate results. If you're interacting with artists, 'like' their posted works, if in fact you really do like them.  Query them on materials and processes associated with their work. Most will answer swiftly and graciously, while others won't answer at all.  Remember that we're all in different places in this world, carrying differing loads at different stages of our lives, so don't take any of this personally.  The most important thing is to be genuine and open.  You will find that most people respond very favorably to this and will even begin to reciprocate.  The fringe benefit is that you will gain so much from interacting with others.  The fresh perspective is reward enough all by itself.  You'll gain new techniques, new perspectives, new ideas, and you'll feel like a part of a larger group.  Be enthusiastic, honest, and true.  It's a sure-fire way to get people to like you. You have to keep up with this regularly and consistently and you will be successful, but it can be slow.  This is where the patience comes in. 

My life is busy and I'm sure yours is as well.  We can't sit around all evening on the computer - we'll never get our masterpieces completed or our stories written that way.  In order to effectively implement this principle in your life, you will need to be organized and set reasonable time limits to spend on these activities. Conquering the world would be pretty awful if I didn't have my one true love to share it with.

That reminds me, your loved ones are important, too.  In fact, go give someone a smooch right now.  Then get right back to taking over the world via social media.  :)







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