Author’s Note: I’m currently in the process of migrating old blog posts to this new system. That may mean some links, syntax highlighting, and other details are broken or missing temporarily. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Lately, I've been trapped by three kinds of creative paralysis. The first is your pretty standard "I don't want to get out of bed" paralysis. Next, is the "I don't like where this is going, why don't I just stop" paralysis. But the big one for me is the "I'm not sure if I should put this out there" paralysis.
I just remembered that that’s stupid!
I can write anything I want here! Banana hammock! Toaster! What if the universe is an ant farm for four-dimensional beings? Mind. Blown.
Okay, anyway. I have a lot of varied interests. Depending on the day, I’m a software engineer, a podcaster, a videomaker, a comedian, a pianist, a writer, an educator…
Having a diverse set of interests is a lot of fun. It means that I can be productive while I feel like I’m “taking a break”. But it has meant that I feel really weird when it comes to my “online persona”. Which, yes, I’ll grant you is a horrible expression, but let’s also be realistic and admit that our internet popularity actually does have some implications on what we’re able to do with our lives, even if it’s not a reality we necessarily appreciate.
I get scared that if I start tweeting “techie” stuff, I’ll scare away people who appreciate my music. Or that if I share out what books I’m reading, it has no interest to the folks who appreciate gaming content. Ignoring the “many hats” mismatch, I worry even more generally that I may phrase something the wrong way, and come across as off-putting or out-of-touch. Snapchat? I don’t even Vine!
Why do ideas happen when I should be asleep?
I should be asleep right now. It’s the late morning here, but I struggle to stick to a regular sleep schedule. But as I was tossing and turning and trying to lull myself into a stupor, it occured to me that this whole idea of trying to filter out content based on an audience…well, it may be tactical, but it’s artificial.
That gnawing feeling of “don’t tweet that, it won’t play well with your followers” is not an indictment of my own thoughts. If anything, it’s an observation that in some areas, I might have an audience mismatch. But more likely, it’s just my brain coming up with an excuse not to do things.
If I think about the people whose content I really admire (or even just thinking about “classic cool” folks in general), there’s a common characteristic: they don’t pander. They make things because they want to make the things. Maybe they’re good at those things, maybe not. But they’re making stuff, and getting better because they’re making stuff. The audience is always secondary.
I love being able to interact with people on the internet. And I’ve made some of my closest friends as a result of those interactions. But shaping your online persona, or your creative work, with the viewer/reader/audience in mind is at best lazy, and at worst, dishonest.
But in my case, it’s yet another excuse not to make things. So I’m gonna do what I like, and make things.