One of my biggest failures has been my inefficiency at PROMOTING my newest works—because before I’ve even finished most projects, I’m well on my way towards working on the next one. Before I’d even uploaded my newest book to the self-publishing site (I use KDP—if you know a better means of self publishing, I’m willing to listen to your reasoning), I was already onto my NEXT book project. (Technically, I have about three partially completed books and a half-dozen IDEAS for future projects ALL vying for attention in my head…)
I make a new drawing or painting or take some new photograph (and digitally tweak it until it squeals) every day, and each of these visual bits usually has an accompanying WRITTEN component along with it, and I post these works on my STEEMIT blog. One a day. Every day. Always. (In the year and two months that I’ve been on Steemit—and acquired enough “Resource Credits” to do what I wanted to do—I think I’ve only missed, maybe, three or four days. That’s out of nearly 400 days. I take a day off (not very often by choice) once out of every hundred days or so…
But that means I have this MASSIVE amount of artwork and written work just sitting there, not doing anything. I post it, I share it to a handful of places (Facebook—so my family and friends can see what I’ve been up to— and Twitter, maybe Instagram, maybe Ello, maybe WordPress, on rare occasions to Medium), and that’s it. DONE! I rarely think about or look at these pieces again, even though I’m usually pretty happy with what I’ve created. (My tastes are simple, so I’m easy to please, I guess…)
What a waste. Shouldn’t I be promoting and pushing and whoooping up my work? I mean, it takes time and effort to make a new visual piece every day, and then it takes even LONGER to write something to go with it. I’m quite particular about my writing. I don’t like putting out work that’s full of typos or mistakes or that’s just plain boring. I WORK to make sure my stuff is funny or interesting or informative or clever… Again, it takes time and effort to conceive, write, structure, edit, and rewrite a piece—even something that’s only a few hundred words can take several drafts and edits to get it to where I’m happy.
So shouldn’t I be DOING something with all this WORK? Blogs are GREAT! You get to conceive, develop, create, and share directly with an audience, who can then get right back to you with feedback (whether good or bad), and this is all fantastic stuff. But when you put out 30 pieces per month—shit stacks up rather quickly! Particularly clever or interesting work gets buried, and I’m the first person to admit that not EVERYTHING I make is perfect, that not every joke lands, that not every monster looks that monstrous enough… And I often wonder if the daily format is the BEST format for an artist / writer who’s trying to go BIG (while staying home!) (What I mean here isn’t that I want to become “rich and famous,” just that I’d like to make enough from my creative work that I can ditch the crappy delivery job—and that won’t be easy because I actually make pretty good money from the tips alone.)
Thankfully, I have other avenues of attack—places where I can take some of these artworks and stories and turn them into something a bit more substantial than a BLOG! There’s crypto-art, which has a certain charm (and I’ve had more success SELLING this rather unknown asset class than I imagined I would), there’s print-on-demand work (stuff like Redbubble or Threadless), there’s all those BOOKS that I’ve made by collecting my art and stories together and putting them on paper pages, there’s print and poster making (and I have a lot of fun with this format), there’s zines, there’s physical art (like paintings and sculpture and mailart), direct sales (like with Etsy), and there’s VENDING at cons and fests and fairs (which I’ve just started experimenting with), and so on…
But each of these things are EXTRA work—sometimes with actual PRODUCTION COSTS, for materials and printing, beyond the mental effort and time… Which are a gamble when you’re just an unaffiliated, outsider art-prankster.
So these are the concepts I’m wrestling with in my head lately. How much payoff (emotional, economic, cultural) is there compared to the EFFORT involved in the various creative acts… I have a LOT of material under my belt at this point. (My OLD blog, The Primitive Entertainment Workshop, had over 7,000 posts when we finally filled it up—and I’m going to guess, conservatively, that I produced about 70 or 80 percent of that content! I could COAST on old work for years, making prints, collecting written work into anthologies, and not have to pick up a pen or paintbrush again, until I was well into my sixties! But that’s not likely to happen. I LOVE writing. I LOVE drawing. I LOVE painting. I LOVE photography. I LOVE making jokes and being snarky. I LOVE sharing my fun experiences out in the “real” world with my friends and loved ones. I LOVE reviewing books and songs and music, and then SHARING those things with everybody who’ll listen.
I can’t imagine that I’ll ever give up PRODUCING CONTENT, until I CAN’T anymore… But maybe I need to cool it down a bit a spend a LITTLE more time on the PROMOTION of the stuff I’ve already made. I have boxes of drawings and paintings in my closets and in the garage—just sitting there. I have THOUSANDS of digital artworks and photographs on various hard-drives and blogs and websites—just sitting there. I have THOUSANDS of pages of poetry, stories, reviews, travel journals, and rants in notebooks, on blogs, on hard-drives, and on scraps of paper in boxes—just sitting there… DOING NOTHING. NOT being read. NOT being looked at. NOT being laughed at or enjoyed.
And as we all know, “CIRCULATION IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS!”
Maybe I need to adjust my schedule a bit…
Let me know your thoughts on NEW WORK vs PROMOTING FINISHED WORK. I’m curious how other folks divide their energies…
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Holy Fool)
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!