Imagine if Jonas Salk at last discovers the polio vaccine, but he cowers at the prospect of receiving publicity or criticism or of appearing vain by drawing attention to himself. So, he decides to keep the discovery to himself. That would be irresponsible, wouldn’t it?
And yet a few of us creatives somehow think it’s okay if we keep what we create to ourselves or that the world has conspired against us if it’s not showing up at our studio or shed doors begging to see and buy the antidotes to their suffering that we’ve created.
I want to suggest this: It is our responsibility not only to create. It’s also our responsibility to figure out, gain the skill sets, and enlist allies & mentors to get our creative medicine out there.
Here are three tenets I want to posit for any introverted creative people who are unsure about putting their work out into the world via promoting, marketing, shipping, publishing, distributing, fund-raising:
1. Now more than ever people and businesses need what intelligent, sensitive creatives have to offer.
2. There are more opportunities than ever for intelligent, sensitive creatives to get their work “out there” and to shape or complement their livelihood.
3. Intelligent, sensitive creatives “buckle” at opportunities to get their work more into the world and sometimes sabotage their own best yearnings.
Now more than ever people and businesses need what intelligent, sensitive creatives have to offer.
Let’s start with what most people want. Many people whom I meet and talk to feel overwhelmed, zapped, fatigued, and harried. They often hunger for but don’t know how to find
transcendence from the daily riff-raff
awakening of a deep feeling state they lose or forget in the daily flotsam
an experience that reminds them of their own purpose or that reminds them that life is meaningful or at least beautiful
Who can offer transcendent, awakening experiences?
This is why now more than ever we need well-designed art, music, stories, books, films, and events.
This is why now more than ever we need teachers who can design experiences in which something real and true is brought out in us.
This is why now more than ever we also need intelligent, sensitive creative people to innovate ways to get their “medicine” out into the world, to their patch of the planet.
Why do corporations turn to artists? Why did Lincoln Motor Company - as part of its brilliant 2013 “Hello, Again” campaign - turn to Beck and designers and audio geeks to create a multi-media live and online “360-degree experience”?
Because as great as the new Lincolns are to drive (not your grand-daddy’s gas-guzzler), the experience of driving one is hard to convey. So...they’ve turned to story tellers, videographers, and musicians like Beck this year to sell the experience.
Cringe as you may at the phrase “sell the experience,” that is ultimately what intelligent, sensitive creatives do. They sell experiences - whether it’s the experience of a sculpture, a sonata, or a somatic writing workshop.
There are more opportunities than ever for intelligent, sensitive creatives to get their work “out there” and to shape or complement their livelihood.
None of us will save the world (and I’m not convinced it needs saving or that humans are the ones to do it if it did). But you can salve a patch of the planet. Your work does that.
Digital technology + new models for socially progressive businesses + new collaboration opportunities make the early 21st century ripe for you.
Disruptions in the economy actually make this time ripe for creatives not just to create their medicine but also to make it known and find the channels for distributing it.
Intelligent, sensitive creatives “buckle” at opportunities to get their work more into the world and sometimes sabotage their own best yearnings.
Getting the word out. Getting the medicine out there.
Here’s where we paradoxical creative creatures set up false dichotomies and broken frames. Here are some of the unconscious or conscious broken frames that hold us and our creative medicine back:
Being solitary, creating work alone, remaining quiet = good, authentic
Being a bohemian pauper (an anarchist, all the better!) = good, authentic
Promotion, Marketing, Distribution = big and loud and “bad”
Making a worthy livelihood that lets you distribute your medicine even more widely and effect more people and not burn out and still experience life in its splendor = sell-out
I know these frames intimately.
5 Things You Can Do
> Attune and engage. Let down the armor and help others do likewise. As an intelligent, sensitive creative, you have an inner intelligence that can help other people. Be socially smart in how you give and take. Aim to build up your patch of the planet. Captivate them and in so doing elevate them.
> Honor your native creative strengths. You create art and experiences that awaken, move, or crack open people. Corporations don’t. Own that. We need you to.
> “Come out” on your terms. Promoting and distributing your creative medicine doesn’t have to be ego-centric, obnoxious, sleazy, manipulative. Own what the good story is that you and your creative medicine are about. Expand your circles your way.
> Get plenty of productive solitude and productive loafing time. It’s August. Use your alone time well - in your creative laboratory testing out the latest vaccine for zombie lifestyles or the latest antidote to the virus of reality tv culture.
> Then, find out where other creatives hang out - and go there. I've instigated a no-agenda meet up in New York's Hudson Valley called HV:CREATE. For 8 months, one to two dozen creatives show up to discuss these and other matters. We exchange ideas, resources, and problem-solving. Your neighborhood, town, or city likely has something comparable. If not, start one. You'll be surprised who will show up.
And that is what we're all asked to do, isn't it? Show up.