When Tim Ferriss posts something, people flock in droves to read it.
When JK Rowling puts something new on Potterwatch, the internet explodes.
When Grey Malin releases a new series of photos featuring rainbow-colored sheep, everyone flings money at him.
They act, people react. No extra effort needed.
But what about those of us still fighting the tide of obscurity? What about those of us who are juggling a family and a full-time job just trying to dig out a couple hours out of the week to create? We’d love to have the luxury of those artists.
The truth is, you may never have the extra time to create. And even if you did, it’s likely you would get the same amount done. That being said, there are two things you can do to get attention, even if don’t have the same buzz as the big dogs (yet).
1. Be Consistent
Here’s a little confession — I have serious commitment issues when it comes to work. Before this year, I was scared to write regularly because I was afraid that would look too much like work. Anything which gets too familiar starts to feel like a cage and I run.
So instead, I committed to something small — one post a week on Medium. Just one.
Every Tuesday I would post. Every single Tuesday for 5 months I’d write something and nobody would read it. For those first 20 or so posts, I didn’t get much recognition. Nobody cared*.
Then, in the 6th month, something started to change. I wrote a post that got a fairly decent amount of traffic and folks started to notice me. Some people would come to my page and then read everything I’d written.
A funny thing happens when you get consistent. By the time the world realizes what you’re doing, they think you belong there. In the first 5 months, I had <200 followers. In the next month and a half, I got to almost 2,000. Now Medium is recommending me to new users simply because I write there a consistently.
It’s not a fluke. I do the same thing with my Motivation Monday series on Snapchat. It takes 30 minutes with my early-morning coffee. First nobody cared. Now they won’t let me stop.*
You don’t have to post 7 days a week in order to stay relevant. You really don’t. We get fooled into thinking the only way we are allowed to write or paint or be creative is to do it full time.
It’s a lie.
The only time you have to write is from 6 -7 a.m. on a Thursday morning? Awesome. Write then.
The only paints you have are blue and the toddler just went down for a nap? Cool. Try something monochromatic.
The only time you have access to a studio is once a month? Fine. Work out lyrics during your commute.
Do what you can. Find your rhythm. Don’t feel guilty about the rest.
2. Use Momentum
You’ve heard the saying “an object in motion tends to stay in motion?”
Works with creativity too.
One dark and stormy November 30th many years ago, I was trying to hit a NaNoWriMo deadline.* I had 3 hours to write just over 4500 words. It was impossible. I didn’t even know what was going to happen next in the story. No clue how it was going to turn out.
Do you know what I did?
I started with the hope that the pieces would fall into place. I wrote one sentence and then another and then another. After a while, I couldn’t stop. My bladder ached and my stomach growled, but I was going to make it.
Creativity doesn’t always come. The ideas don’t always flow freely. But when they do, for God’s sake, ride the wave. Ride it as long as you can.
You know that hour on Thursday morning you have set aside to write? On the days you finish early, don’t finish early. Just keep going.
Some days, heck, some weeks I have absolutely no time to write. But every time I step on a plane, you can bet I’ll dig out at least 3 or 4 blog posts.*
Starting is hard. Staying is easy.
Once you start being consistent, it’s easier to create things. Once it’s easier to create things, you can create more of them in less time. It’s a virtuous cycle.
Consistency and Momentum are small things that create a big impact.
It’s not sexy to say “do this for 2 years and then people will care.”
But sometimes that’s what it takes.
See you next week.
*Looking for an explanation to the asterisks? Scroll back up and check my notes to the side of the paragraph*