Here's the nihilistic reality of the technologically advanced, hypercompetitive modern artmaking experience. In a world where anybody can create anything for nothing, everyone is becoming overwhelmed by everything, and that can discourage someone from making something. It may sound absurdist, but once you make peace with that reality, it frees you up to take more risks with your creative work.
BLOOD GAUGE -- a personal filter for your own work that reinforces the importance of risk.
There is an inverse relationship between your willingness to take emotional risks with your art and the likelihood of people criticizing it. The more personal your message, the more universal your appeal. If you're struggling to make your work known to the world, perhaps you're using too much ink and not enough blood. Kiss famously drew blood from each of the four band members and mixed it with the red ink used to print their first comic book. That might be taking this whole risk thing far too literal, but it's still a fascinating concept.
That's something my mentor always preached me, quite literally, as he is a preacher. Bill would challenge me to ask myself during my writing process, what do you risk in presenting this material? After all, the more personal your message, the more universal your appeal. And if you can't answer that simple question, then it's highly unlikely your work will break through the clutter and have a real impact on its audience. Maybe your article will offend and polarize readers. Perhaps a word choice will upset elder family members. It's also possible your highly personal story will make you vulnerable. Or the philosophy you published will make your friends wonder if you've finally gone off the deep end. It's funny, there have been countless times over the years when friends, family members, coworkers, bosses, my wife, even complete strangers, have personally reached out to me after consuming some of my work and asked, dude, are you okay? I just read that last piece you published, and it sounds like you're going through a hard time. Let me know if you need someone to talk to. First of all, thanks for reading. It's encouraging to know that my art isn't completely winking in the dark. Secondly, what a blessing to have people in my life who care about my wellbeing. Not everyone has that kind of support system. And the third thing is, whatever someone is reading at any given time, it's likely the piece of writing was written months or years ago. Which means the feelings represented in that content have likely already been processed.
Figure out how to create a personal filter for your own work that reinforces the importance of risk. In a world where anybody can create anything for nothing, and everyone is overwhelmed by everything, maybe the next risk work of art you make will be something that changes someone. Always ask what you risk in presenting this material. How could you use more blood and less ink?
Create personal but universal messages in your work
Achieve greater authenticity in your artist projects
Cut through the clutter to reach and engage people more deeply with your art
Overcome feelings of discouragement and apathy towards the creative marketplace