For What It's Worth: 3 Things I've Learned
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
A couple of days ago, my Timehop lovingly let me know that three years ago, I began blogging (and also that I apparently felt like tweeting "I just started a blog and I've never felt so k00l 8)" was an okay and exciting thing to do). Thank goodness that 1,095 and some odd days later, I've resorted to tweeting about David Duchovny, Buffy, and Photoshopped pictures of hedgehog bodies with Nic Cage's head on them. See? We can all evolve with time.
Thankfully, I've learned much more during the past three years.
Originally, I began blogging because I was so compelled by Carrie Bradshaw's voice and narrative during one of my most-watched television shows: Sex and the City. I mostly concentrated on creative nonfiction (and still do) at that time, and saw blogs as a version of the essay--just shorter, and more casual. I thought, I want to do what Carrie is doing! I don't have the trendy apartment in New York but I have a moldy dorm room! After all, I had always seen creative nonfiction in its simplest form as storytelling, which is what I try to do through many of my posts. My blogging has been a way for me to express my thoughts on every day happenings, my anxiety, pop-culture, and women's issues. It also gives me an outlet to regularly practice my writing, connect with my readers, and embarrass myself by publishing pieces with typos and finding them later.
While exploring my own writing, beginning to get published in online and print journals, and mapping outlines for future projects/longer works, I found that to be a ~creative~, it helps to establish three major things, for what it's worth.
1. Who is your audience? About a year ago, I attended an evening event for work. One of the guest speakers was a local artist who talked about his process and success. He explained that you had to determine who your audience was, and be okay with people disliking your work. Not everyone will like what you do, and you have to understand that. There are things that we don't like as creators, so we have to expect the same results and not take it personally with our own work. He emphasized the importance of knowing who you want to connect with, and who you probably aren't going to resonate with. This advice has stuck with me constantly. Who are you making things for?
"You are not for everyone.
The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everything and that’s OK. Talk to the people who can hear you.
Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen it by rolling yours in the wrong direction." - excerpt from author Rebecca Campbell
2. Why are you doing this? Throughout earning my degree, people constantly asked me why I was pursuing an English major (and a music minor). Are you worried you won't get a job? they'd ask, or Get used to being in a coffee shop! Haha! I spent my time in college among powerful writers and thinkers who challenged me every day. I sang and made beautiful music with people I cared about. We were constantly shifted and changed by various art forms that both comforted and disturbed. Writing has been my way to reach others and hopefully help them feel less alone. To show that I am very human, and make my readers smile. To better articulate myself because I often get overwhelmed when speaking in person but still have things to say. My answer as to why I wanted to write was always very simple: Because I couldn't imagine doing anything else.
3. Are you still actively learning? It becomes increasingly difficult to continue any sort of formal education outside of academia, but not impossible. My writing and communication skills landed me a wonderful PR/marketing position that I love working hard at every day. I'm always trying to read, listen, watch, and ultimately learn from others on how to improve my own content and marketing strategy. Trends happen, things change, and it never stops. I apply what I learn at work to my own blogging/writing plans. To be successful as an artist, the hunger cannot stop. If you want to write, you must continue to read works, new and old, and think about them. What do you like about them? Why do you dislike them? Can you apply their style and techniques to your own work? Write when you're tired. Write when you're so sad that you don't think you can move your heavy hand to scribble and smear ink. Write when your brain is loud, when the afternoon is dragging, when you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your phone looking at things you could really care less about. Force yourself to make new things, so that you can learn what you're capable of and see how you're changing. The same goes for any type of visual artist, performer, or musician. You have to continue exploring your field and never stop consuming as much as possible. Create communities and talk about various works. Discuss films and stories, talk about new songs and why they speak to you. Support one another to keep art alive and healthy. Care for it, nurture it, and never lose it. It's ours to love and cultivate so that it can go out into the world and make a difference.
I'm obviously not an expert in any sense of the word, but I know that many of you are creators who are looking to find your place in this expansive universe and trying to shape your futures too. Don't forget where you came from and where you're headed. Keep your passion alive, and we'll see where we all are in another three years.
I'll probably still be tweeting about David Duchovny.