I started blogging back in the early 2000’s. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was kind of an early adopter. A cool community arose which included people from all kinds of backgrounds. The one thing we had in common was blogging. It was this big, crazy pile of creativity, and I loved it. Then blogging became the next big thing. The community vibe was still there, but it sort of splintered into all these different little niches. Then it went mainstream, and it felt like everybody was trying to sell something.
I pulled an Old Yeller on my blog, and dove headfirst into Twitter and Facebook. For a while there it felt like the good old days with blogging. A bunch of people from all over the place gathering around a big water cooler. But these platforms soon lost their luster as well. My Twitter feed is filled with paid ads and shameless self-promotion (On a side note, Facebook has surprisingly stayed pretty cool for me. IDK – maybe because Facebook only shows me what I “like”?).
I repeated this cycle a couple more times. Posterous! Tumblr! Google+! But it all started to feel the same. I was about ready to throw in the towel.
Then I came across Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. That book might have singlehandedly saved the entire internet for me. Where I had been blaming the various social media platforms, this book helped me to realize that more than anything, my approach and my attitude needed to change.
You might have seen Austin’s work before. He is known for doing this cool newspaper blackout art. He also wrote a great book a couple of years ago called Steal Like an Artist which is a manifesto for bringing ideas into the world. Show Your Work is an extension of that concept, giving tips for artists and creative types to building and fostering community. The central theme is built around this idea of “showing your work”, or letting people rally around your works in progress in an organic way. Not ready to “show” anything yet? No big deal – point people to other things that have influenced and inspired you.
Perhaps my favorite concept from Show Your Work is this idea of a “scenius” (via Brian Eno). Kleon correctly points out that great art isn’t made in a vacuum. Great painters flocked to Paris in the 19th century. Great writers flocked to Paris (what is it about Paris?) in the 1920’s. Songwriters go to Nashville; filmmakers go to Hollywood. You get the picture.
I know in my experience that Third Day wouldn’t have made a splash without the inspiration Georgia bands like R.E.M., Drivin n Cryin, and The Georgia Satellites. We also were a proud member of a local Christian music scene with Jacob’s Trouble, The Waiting, and Smalltown Poets. We also were part of a broader Christian rock scene with groups like Newsboys, Big Tent Revival, and Audio Adrenaline. Whatever you are into, you will benefit from seeking out like-minded souls and spurring one another on.
On a side note, I’m not exactly sure what scene this blog belongs to. Is it music people who write? Is it writer people who like music? I’m not really sure, but I’m going to have a whole lot of fun trying to figure it out!
At any rate, I’ve realized that instead of looking for the perfect platform, I need to be looking for a scene. And as I find like-minded souls (I’ve already found a few!) I’ll point you in their direction. Instead of looking for a big old crazy pile of creativity, I need to create one. And share it. That’s part of why I’m doing this goofy blog-every-day thingy to begin with.
Here’s the bottom line: do something cool. Every single day. But don’t stop there. Be sure to tell us about it. Show your work!
Here’s your chance: if you’re up to something cool, by all means “show your work”! Use the comments section below to tell us what you’ve been up to.