writers, don’t leak your magic.

“Stop writing about your trip and sharing all your photos!”
I would get texts similar to this from my sister.
“Don’t give it all away!”
What she doesn’t understand is that an artist these days, in the world of social media, has been trained and feels the pressure *to* give it all away. Because this is how we survive. This is the way we think people will come to support us, how we garner “followers” or as I like to say “appreciators”. Because to be an artist means to reveal the heart, the gut, the soul of your process. What she *does* understand about me is my generosity, my desire to give and to connect and to share everything I have. These two things together, the feeling that I must give to survive, and the feeling that I love to give because, community, can cause for my own self depletion, ill health, and creative exhaustion.
As artists who are asked in this day and age to share so much of our process, I personally forget to actually complete my art. Sometimes I forget to even begin my art. Social media has become the medium. And sometimes my creativity stops there.
I understand that some people really get inspired by conversations and by sharing bits and pieces of what they are working on, and can actually time manage their work in a way where they share some and then lock themselves in the studio and do the “real” work {i say this because i find the work we do solo to be the most important, as artists at least, or maybe I should say fro myself as a writer}. But that is not me. I leak inspiration. I tap myself out. Oh god. I am the worst. I will get an idea or a download and because of the nature of this work, I head to social media to share it. Because: connection. Because: validation. Because: programming. Because: necessity {or assumed necessity to keep people interested in your “genius” — ahem}.
I put my creativity in a micro form to fit in a square box on an ungrounded, landless, community of names. I release it to the world. And the most likely I have lots of interesting conversations, all typed on my phone, about whatever it is I shared. MY face is all scrunched. A wormhole was entered. My eyes hurt. And then suddenly, I am empty. Done. And I cannot find the same fire to get my ass at the desk and write more about it, to dig deeper, to unearth the larger piece of work it might have been. To honor my expression by giving is time, space, quiet, to be born.
In other words. I leak. I leak creativity. I leak magic. I leak the story. I leak my process. Which I am finding is the most sacred and holy thing there is. It is mine. It is my spiritual practice, it my worship, it really is my everything. And I am spreading it thin all over the internets. I am needing for it to be seen before it’s barely grown it’s own heart.
Since when, in all of history, has an artist made their process public?
Maybe I am old fashioned, but the most profound writers usually have to lock up and find solitude to write. There is a time for living and conversing and talking and communing. And then there is a time for silence. To create. To be selfish. For it to be a union between you and your muse only. Not for the world. Not for scraps and crumbs. But for you to settle in for days. weeks, months, years, to have this sacred session with yourself. Nobody else invited.
I just cannot anymore. I cannot give it all away.
I have to keep it. I have to keep it so I can breathe life into it and someday, maybe, just maybe, it will be full grown and born and a gift to others, in it’s complete and whole form.
And besides, I just do not have the time. There are quite a few things on my plate, and on most of the women/artists/creatives plates :: self care, kids, partners, jobs, activism. I lose so much time engaged/plugged in/sharing.
There is something about the world sharing right now that that feels like “having to tap yourself out.”
And I am not down with that.
And for the writers who are writing best selling books and also have a social media presence that is strong AF. Trust me. They have a staff. They have support. They can lock up and write while others post to keep their people interested. They are probably living the dream. Or maybe they tapped themselves out getting there, leaked their way to mediocracy. Who knows. All I know is that I am allergic to middle ground creativity. I want to go to the edge. I don’t know how to do that when share/receive thoughts around what I share/question what I share/doubt what I share/get bored of what I share. And since I do not have a staff of people, I don’t have the time.
My creative process is too precious.
So please, if you feel me, know you are not alone.
This shit is confusing and hard.
We need to make art, we need to write, we need to create. But we need to make money. And the way to do it? Brand, market, funnel, social media, live stream, share your work, share your soul. Funnel more. Copy write. Or just slather our soul across the interwebs and hope people will support you.
I think the deeper issue for me is trusting that if I get quiet on social media, which I so need so I can pour all my words, all my stories, into my and book, when I come up for air, all the people will be gone. I will hear crickets. I will lose all my support. I will be alone. Nobody will remember me. Or. GASP. “like” me anymore.
Isn’t that ridiculous?
Actually it probably in not considering paid sponsorship and algorithmand the more you play/pay {and um, how many artists out there are rolling in advertising dough?} the more you get seen. It probably isn’t because social media art/writing scene is not far removed from any other business. You gotta put yourself out there. You gotta give it away. You gotta share your process. You gotta brand yourself. You gotta make big business out of your creative blood. You gotta you gotta you gotta….. sell your soul. Or at least sell out your process. Sell something. Maybe not what you even want to sell. Because. Capitolism. Anyway.
Do not get me wrong. I love social media and I love the connections that I make there. I am not against it. This isn’t about that.
I am just in question. How great is it for us artists? The ones that are not the best at marketing or capitolism? What about marginalized artists without the same resources and support as privileged artists? The ones that do not have 20k people at the press of a button willing to support them and access to a business account? What about the ones who want to do their art and when it’s ready, bring it to the world, but don’t have 5K extra to hire a marketing genius doesn’t really get to do it’s thing. All those not willing or do not have the resources to go the hard core entrepenuer/capitolistic route will stay unknown in this world. The monopoly is real. The hierarchy is real. The lack of time and space and support for artists/writers is real.
Also, sharing your work before it’s ready risks giving pieces of your baby away. When you are pregnant, you do not let people in your womb to see the parts. Or when you are conceiving, you do not give the world a peek into the most intimate parts. But when the baby is born, it is something whole and complete. It is ready to be seen. To conceive you need privacy and trust, to get naked and open up, to gestate you need a certain amount of quiet, alone, darkness, solitude.
And for me, the constant feeling that I “need” to share and be more “public” in order to survive, to garner support is emotionally exhausting. It is vulnerable. It is uncomfortable. And also at times feels like performative bullshit. I am much more happy hiding in a cave and writing. And coming out to just say hi, to bring beauty, to share what I want to share. And to not have to make it about something more than whatever it is, to not make it about selling myself before I am ready to give freely. To know that I can trust the actual action of creation without exploitation. That I can trust creation.
I am learning to trust creation more and more. Or trying to learn. Or practicing it.
I keep telling my sister, who is constantly reminding me to keep my book to myself, that I know. I know. I cannot keep giving the seed of the gems away. But I am nervous, I am trying to keep reminding people, hey, I am here, I am writing a book, don’t leave! It’s a really weird state to be in. It feels desperate. It feels anxious. It feels a little gross.
When really I just want to share whole art. Something complete, thoughtful and of service. Something that feels “real”- that took more than a social media post and an hour of back and forths with 50 of 3000 friends. It is really important to remember — — — snot just deliver a message. It demands to be the canvas for creation.
My sister recently just sent me this article, speaking about leaking your magic, and leaking your story. The bottom line is, when you focus your attention on the work, on the art, it can gestate and be complete. If you focus on selling yourself, on giving bits and pieces away, on being scared to lose followers, on having anxiety around how many “likes” you get, getting tripped out about sharing some of your most profound and subversive ideas, sharing your brilliance and your star seeds, what you might be leaking *could be* fully given to your work, your process, to completing something larger.
I am on the path to complete something larger, something whole, something complete something that doesn’t fit in a box that can be shared or liked or praised before it’s done {and maybe all this doesn’t resonate with anyone else, maybe this is my total SAG sun sign coming out and trying not to scatter my talents around, but either way, it is important to say}. I am working on showing up daily for practice, for process, for devoting my entire self {because shit, I have kids, and a partner, and a community and that is a lot in itself} to my writing, to the larger concepts, to the life long concepts, to both the BIGGER picture and the EXTREME details, to the completion.
I am going to cast the entire fucking circle of my magic. With no breaks in it.
The world needs more books. Not social media posts with partial brilliance.
I am in no way shorting the social media brilliance out there. There is so much of it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice keeping the magic for ourselves, if we want to work on pieces that take longer, have more layers, need our full attention. To not share a thing. Until our baby is born, until our work feels complete.
And if I am not mistaken there is even a brain science about this. I do not know the exact details, but I can research it. What I know is that when we let parts of our thought process out before it’s fully formed, we let it go, and we sometimes never really return to it, our brain loses it’s electric source for it.
I do not want to give away what wants to grow more.
How would that feel? To make it all yours until you are ready to share it?
How does sharing on social media affect your art, your process?
What are your fears around stepping away and focusing on something that isn’t being social media shared? What does it feel like to do so? What does it change in your work?
For me it has changed everything. I have more energy. I have more time. I think maybe I have more interesting things to say, or at least more nuanced and layered. I think I am becoming a better storyteller. I think I am playing with concepts in safe spaces without anyone else’s interaction or OPINION about it, which can often warped my own process. I think I am feeling more FREE to be HONEST. Without feeling like i might be SAYING SOMETHING WRONG.
Let your art have the freedom to be beyond “right and wrong”.
All I know is that sitting down every day and writing, and writing words for a larger project, has begun to heal a lot of the pits and pox and anxiety in me. Turning inward and making words that nobody sees every day has released panic and doubt. In general, it has healed me. Because how can I be a writer, the kind people need to read, when I am scattered, anxious and leaking? When I am more concerned about selling than creating? Nope. I want to give myself up whole and compete. I want my words to be cared for and breathed into and refuted — for me- and for you as well.
Next time you want to toss some brilliance out to the world, think about it. Can you sit down and write this out somewhere else? Is this something that wants more of your love and full attention? Is this sacred process? Is this what our world is slowly losing? Save it. Save art. Save the process as in intimate act of love.
Also, I could be wrong. I often am. But… it is working for me. It has been good medicine.