One of most important lessons I’m learning is to love my craft even when nobody cares. Learning this lesson is an important first step in getting started on whatever it is you want to accomplish. One of the best and hardest advice I’ve heard on creativity is from William Zinsser’s On Writing Well: write for yourself. He captures it well in this statement:
“You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for. If you lose the dullards back in the dust, you don’t want them anyway.”
When it comes to your craft, whatever it may be, your primary audience is you.
In a world where fame is the most praised sign of success, writing for yourself in an important lesson. Our world tells us that the only things that matter are things that get a lot of attention. A mentor once asked me, “would you still write if only one person reads what you wrote?” He spoke of a woman he admired for being committed to writing to her audience of three. She valued the craft itself more than the little attention that came with it.
There’s something beautiful about someone who experiences her craft even when it doesn’t “succeed.” There’s something innocent and childlike about it. We affirm it when we see it in children, who don’t really care about who admires their creativity. After we’ve enjoyed the process for its own sake can we take the next step to share it with another, as a child does with her parents, or as a blogger does with the internet.
How many are kept every day from exploring their craft because they’ve equated importance to fame? There are many articles that I didn’t write and books I didn’t read because I didn’t think it mattered to enough people. We all have moments where we miss out on enjoying the process of creating and loving our craft because we believe that it only matters if it matters to a lot of people.
It is human to create, so do what you love, even when no one shows up.
What’s keeping you from exploring and creating something new?