I believe that something special happens when our writing and creative work is shared with others. Of course, the creative act is complete in itself: you can create for the sake of creating. Then, you can put that work in a drawer (or hard drive), and feel a sense of total fulfillment and satisfaction in the process. I grew up as an artist, my wife is an artist, and my friends are creators of all sorts. The creative process can end there.
I also believe something special happens when you share what you create. That there is a kind of magic that a reader brings to your writing — in between that intersection of what you wrote and why, and the life experience and perspective of someone who reads it. In that reader’s brain, a sort of co-creation can happen. And in this moment, your writing can change lives.
It can inspire, educate, and bring a moment of relief to someone who needs it. It can sustain someone through their darkest times, and create the joy they seek most in life. It can help them understand others and themselves in new ways.
Do you need to share? Nope. Can something deeply meaningful happen when you do? I think so.
Of course, we tend to talk about the notion of sharing what we create with different phrases:
- Plan your book launch!
- Build your author platform!
- Get newsletter subscribers!
- Grow your social media presence!
- Get followers! So many more follllloooooowwwwweeeerrrrrssss!!!
- Create a marketing funnel!
- Establish your career!
- Have a side hustle!
But in the end, it’s all about you creating, and you sharing. The methods we use can include sending a newsletter, posting to social media, being on podcasts, hosting Zoom visits, and so much else. Last week I wrote about the tools we used to create and share years ago, such as a typewriter, tube radio, and film camera. If they broke, we simply took them to a repair shop, or replaced them. But today if your Facebook page stops working, you have to troubleshoot it. You have to dive deep into how-to articles and forum threads and support requests to figure out how to “fix it” yourself.
My days are spent with writers, so I’m very aware of how much pressure they feel to create, publish, and share their work. This can result in endless to-do lists. Some of that involves technology. I’m often helping with these tasks hands-on, so to speak, including:
- Website development
- Graphic design
- Podcast pitch strategy
- Social media management
- Email newsletters
- Online course development
- Video recording
- Social ad campaigns
- Online events
- Lead magnets
- And more…
In just the last couple days, I was troubleshooting an issue with one client’s Substack newsletter, getting access to the website dashboard for a client whose site is going through a major redesign, helping setup a brand new blog for another client, and in many other conversations around specific tech issues.
As writers embrace some of these things, I think of it as a literacy. There is so much that they are learning all at once. For instance, a writer who says: “Well, my book is 2 years away from publication, I finally want to establish my platform as an author by creating a website, having a weekly email newsletter, and getting active on two social media channels.”
Let’s consider all of the new things they are learning at once:
- How to frame their identity publicly. For many, they have spent years known as other roles, and still feel apprehensive in how to talk about their life as a writer.
- Signing up for accounts
- Figuring out what to write about
- How often to write it
- How to take photos
- How to shoot videos
- Identifying the practices that feel authentic to them each social media account
At any step here, there could be a misunderstanding, a technology issue, or just plain overwhelm. That is just in the literacy phase — the learning phase — of understanding the process.
At any point, there could be further tech issues. I had a year of this myself recently, with two malware attacks on my website, and then a full migration of my website and email to new servers because the company I use was bought by another. Despite my 20+ years experience with online tech, this is the most difficult technology issue I’ve ever worked through. All was resolved in the end.
This is something I have taken from the experience: technology sometimes prevents us from wanting to share. One of the biggest skills you are developing is not to become an expert at one system or another, but rather, to have a positive mindset to work through an unexpected problems.
I experienced this recently with my home’s 100+ year old heating system. Even though it was well maintained, I had to call in three separate plumbers to try to fix it. It took months. One of them finally said, “You can call 10 plumbers, and one thing they will all disagree on, is how to approach a steam heat system.” It’s a funny thing when you are watching an expert with decades of experience try (again and again and again) to find the source of a problem, and still coming up empty handed.
These roadblocks don’t just happen in “digital tech,” they happen with “old tech” too.
What I have learned in this process is to find collaborators who are good at analyzing a situation and problem solving. When we renovated our home, our primary contractor was exactly like that. There wasn’t a problem you could present to him, that he didn’t look at with totally fresh eyes, and with a sense of curiosity that illustrated he was looking at the issue with an open mind. He found solutions to problems that others swore to me that no one could resolve.
All this to say: if you aren’t sharing what you create because you worry about the technology, you worry about the process, you worry if others really want to hear from you, you worry that you will do it wrong, or worry that you don’t know the exact right system to follow, I want to encourage you to share anyway. To approach the issue from a simple place to start. To establish a basic practice. And to focus on what matters most: the human connections between you, what you create, and those who may appreciate it.