The stakes have never been lower
Almost every time I write, record, or post something, I hear this little Noid in my head say, “Haven’t they heard enough from you, dude?” Which is and isn’t true, I am sure. My team and I have been committed to posting content over the last 5+ years, and we now post on Words Plus Internet, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TikTok, and Medium. And I still get that shred of doubt before almost every post. We are not widely followed on any of those platforms by the way, and we don’t care. We write, we talk, we draw, we make videos, and we create. We do it because it’s a lot of fun and because we believe it’s worth it.
I love consuming. It certainly helps my creativity when I consume compelling podcasts, articles, and (audio)books. I try to make my consumption worthwhile, but I also watch The Office on repeat with a blank stare on my face. I like to tell myself that I’m doing writing research, but I’m not doing much of anything and it’s glorious.
Mindless consumption is entirely fine by me, but overconsumption is a problem. Especially when it replaces life in meaningful ways. I don’t want to call anyone out in particular, but I will and I will right now. The guy caddy-corner to me on the plane is watching Frozen on his phone. I mean, what’s up with that? I’d give him Frozen 2, but Frozen is like 10 years old. I know Disney is for all ages, and I personally believe Frozen is an epic narrative with one of the all-time best theme twists in movie history. But watching Frozen on your phone for two hours? I know you’ve seen it before, man. At least put on Soul or Wreck-It Ralph or take a nap or something.
Then we have creation. The number one reason people tell me they don’t post is because they don’t have anything to say. Which is most-assuredly manure. I know you have something to say because you’re a human and you say stuff all day. You love ladybugs, you hate kittens, you eat bugs, you throw chickens, you hide hats, you kick pigs, you’re jealous of Canadian women, you have a grudge against Arby’s, and you secretly want a panini press are all examples of things that you most definitely have to say. So, I am no longer accepting reason number one.
Another reason people don’t create content is fear of putting themselves out there. This is totally understandable and very relatable. It’s scary and uncomfortable to say, “I made this, do you like it?” Then an audience of faceless Neros uses their thumbs to decide if you’re worthy of their affection. That may be a little dramatic, but that’s how it can feel from the creator’s perspective. From the consumer’s perspective, they’re just mindlessly scrolling until something tickles them. We need to lower the stakes for ourselves as creators. Not the content we create, but the acceptance of the content we create.
If you want to find your voice, you might just need to find your platform. Though it feels like everyone has a YouTube channel, podcast, or Etsy store, they don’t. Besides me, how many people do you know that have a podcast? There are so many ways to be a creator. You can do like my friend and editor does and create really funny and 100% expirable content on Instagram stories. Audrey is a great follow (@audreymck28) for anyone who is a little scared of everything but a lot aware of it. You can do like my neighbor and create a fake profile of a tempestuous pregnant woman on Nextdoor and make outlandish claims about discovering dead bodies. You can pin provocative pictures of Polynesian pilots on Pinterest. You can write malicious reviews of Maggiano’s in your metroplex on Medium. I can go all day with these absurd alliteration amalgamations.
Oh, and you’ll suck at it at first. Unless you’re a prodigy (and no one likes a prodigy). It doesn’t matter what you create, but I do believe it matters that you do it. And not only that you do it, but that you do it for yourself. We need to share what is inside of us. It is good for us. And, after awhile, maybe it will be good for others too.