Don’t Be Discouraged By The Silence

Well, let me first say that I’m writing this to myself just as much, if not more, than I’m writing to you.

Don’t fear the silence. Don’t fear the void.

When we’re at the beginning of our creative journey, we’re overjoyed by excitement. The new blog, the book, the social media campaign, the fresh beats, the essay, the poems…

That excitement carries you swiftly into the process of creation. Finally, you’ve got that first blog post finished. The essay is written. The collection of poems is complete.

And you close your eyes and toss your creation out into the world, into the void, into the raging cacophony of ideas, thoughts, and voices. And you sit. You’re still filled with glee, with excitement. You wait. Then, the glee begins to wane just a bit. And you sit. And the joy that carried you through creativity begins to melt like ice cream in the summer.

Nothing is happening. You feel crushed by the world’s ignorance of your project. How dare they? In your mind, the silence is a deafening declaration of your failure, of your lack of talent. Your mind hisses to itself: we don’t have what it takes. Are we a fraud? A terrible writer? An awful music producer? A false poet?

And this is the sweet space where doubt and fear lie in wait, snickering in the shadows, waiting for you to quit.

Here’s the truth: it’s extremely unlikely that you’re going to make some huge, noticeable splash with your first endeavor, piece of creative, or whatever it is that you’ve tasked yourself with putting out into the world. I’ve learned that much of success, especially around creative pursuits, is a process of momentum. You continuously drop things into the void. One person takes notice “this is awesome!”, then two, “I’m really a fan of what you’re doing!” And the snowball slowly begins tumbling down the mountainside.

When we toss things out into the world, then wait, and hear nothing back and quit, we’ve short-circuited our chance to foster momentum based on an illusion. That’s a recipe for quitting.

We also look at our idols with the 200K Twitter followers or the 1.5MM IG followers or the massive blog readership. The poets with huge followings who can book readings anywhere. The producers in the studio with our favorite artists. We torture ourselves with comparison: Why do they have what they have and I have nothing? The illusion seems rational: let me compare myself at the beginning of my journey with this successful human who is years into theirs. Beginning does not equal middle, right? Any five-year-old would agree. But we’re so invested emotionally — logic pulled the lever and ejected its seat from the vehicle long ago. You missed the part when they had 15 followers. When they had 100 unique visitors to their blog, and that was a milestone! We overlook the beginning and forget about continuous momentum (and let’s not forget that through the process continually making stuff, people sharpen over time). Momentum is incredibly important to success.

I say all of this to say: don’t quit. Don’t slow down. Don’t be discouraged when the world fails to collectively fawn, when the fans aren’t yet screaming, when you’re not yet changing lives.

Aspire to be like your idols without falling into the pit of comparing your success with theirs.

Keep making. Keep tossing. Keep growing. Give it time. This is about continuous, consistent action. Consistency, as I’m realizing many years into my life, is likely one of the greatest life tools to equip oneself with. Keep moving forward. Keep improving. Keep placing things out into the world. It takes time.

In the meantime, don’t be discouraged by the silence.