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It took until the last month or two for me to really feel comfortable sharing We Have Rhymed, because it feels like it’s been in the set-up phase for a year. It still feels like that to a degree, but there are enough solidified pieces that it’s at least coherent now and I’m comfortable with that. The thing is, if I hadn’t shared it at all while it wasn’t coherent, I wouldn’t have had any push or nearly as much inspiration to bring it to this phase.
The best expression of these thoughts I’ve come across is from Amie McNee on Instagram @inspiredtowrite. She is a Creativity Coach who has found a way to get down to the bare bones of what an artist needs to hear to get themselves moving in the right direction. It’s incredibly helpful to see messages such as “I grieve all the art that isn’t made out of fear of the algorithm” on a daily basis. It's very empowering to get that little slap to the face that tells you “You have literally no reason not to do this. You will learn. You will grow. Trust the process.”
Finding others that connect to you, your work, your processes, and your needs as an artist/writer/etc. is absolutely crucial. Let me caveat that statement with this: No, you don’t have to share work that is just for you. You don’t have to get better just for the sake of being better. Creation can purely be about the process and just for you. But, if you want to hone in on something that works (whatever that means for you), you probably need some help to do it. That can come from YouTube videos, one-on-one teachers, the immesurable frustration that is looking at poor analytics which push you to create new ideas, just seeing other people’s types of work, or comments from your audience. You need to expand your view of what your work is through the eyes of others and incorporate it.
You may be reading this and thinking, "okay, I get that, but how?" Something I have noticed but never see put into words is that unless you make comedy content, it's a really good idea to have a physical interaction (not just social media) with people to really get going (especially if you want to see growth quickly). Whether that’s via flyers they find in the wild or a class hosted by you/your brand, some real connection outside of a phone will make a lasting impression. This is also a great approach because you can take pictures of that thing you put out there and post it - so it's really a two for one. Making art and really sharing it with people in your local area on a personal level rather than just the *void that is the internet* is a sure way to help provide some perspective on your work.
If, however, you are going the purely social media route, I have a little advice. I am by no means a social media consultant with my less-than-100-followers over here (all lovely humans, btw), but I have noticed a few things. Usually, we just hear that we should "put ourselves out there". This isn't bad advice, but I really don't think its totally encompassing of the nature of this task. Of course, there are going to be things that the internet just really clings to and makes viral - but usually, you have to chuck your art at every viable surface (more than once) and just see what sticks. When it sticks, throw more at that target. Your target might not even be available yet - mine is evidently Threads right now. It’s only been available for a month and I’ve been doing this for a year. Opportunities will come up, but sometimes you just have to keep throwing stuff until they present themselves. When they do, you'll know, and you can work there. Until then, just keep trying things.
Without getting into serious specifics, that means comment everywhere. That means put out content somwhere nearly daily (if you can). That means talk to people anywhere you can (think messages, story reactions, reviews). When you notice something you put out gets a 10-15% higher ROI, lean into it hard for a little while. If you normally get 3 views and you're suddenly getting 8, do the thing that got you 8. 1k and suddengly getting 1.5k? Same principle. Just make sure it's actually an engagement you want to have - I don't mean be disingenuine. I interact because I love the interactions. I just mean if you have an internal thought that says "hey that looks nice" make sure to actually say it to them. I don't do all of this that often because I personally don't have the time and I just don't like staring at my phone that much. But the days I do pour into it, someone usually notices. And a lot of the time, I find creators I connect with. I bought a beautiful photograph print by Trey Hill (@squarerootof9) last week because he is doing a "Fire Sale", where each day he puts a new print up for sale, and if it doesn't sell in 24 hours it gets burned. We now follow each other, and engage with each other's content fairly regularly. I wouldn't have that connection if he didn't comment on a post by @inspiredtowrite, and I hadn't gone scrolling through those comments and noticed it (i.e. we were both engaging with similar content).
And I love what he had to say to me about sharing our art with others:
"Fire Sale is teaching me that sharing actually makes space for more artistic action (writing, photographing, etc.), and space acts as the midwife for the intelligence at work within our ideas. We want the intelligence to come out - that's the mystical thing in the work, I think? - but it can't or won't unless we make room for it. The only way to do that is to share, because it isn't 'ours.'"
While a lot of this post is about gathering knowledge to increase your skills, he makes a great point. Not only is sharing about improvment or personal gain. It also allows you to dive deep into your subject matter with people/communities you thrive around. It provides you a little pocket in the world that wouldn't have otherwise existed, which you created for yourself, where you can throw your paint as you please and really engage with it.
Personally what I love about this is that it forces you to face yourself and your feelings about your work. A good practice is to note the fears, the rush, or the comfort and community you feel about sharing your work. Note what exactly it is you're feeling and why. Consider what could go wrong, and also what could go right if you do it. Use it as a motivation to learn more about your craft and the platforms you’re sharing it on. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to cultivate your methods and let them shine. Fear doesn’t have to be a hinderance. It’s a way your body tells you “something is off” and you can choose to listen and say “okay, let’s find a way to set it right.”
When you very first start to do this, it may feel like you're "just trying to get attention" with your art or maybe that you're taking up space unnecessarily. Sharing artwork is sometimes about attention - we crave community and bonding and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it’s about money - it's a part of life, and you spent your time on your craft. People who care about your work and your livelihood are happy to help. Sometimes it’s about connection - we need space where we can search for and find things that see the deepest parts of ourself. And it can also be about finding an opportunity to learn from people you wouldn’t have otherwise been vulnerable to. If you have a passion that you’ve been doing by yourself and you want to grow in it, make a page. Start an Etsy shop. Put it out there. Just share your work. Keep it up for as long as it takes and see what happens.
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Liberty Jensen • Writer
Liberty is a donations manager, finance student, and full-time drinker of coffee. She enjoys poetry, her cats, and spending time with her husband.