Stop Thinking About Marketing

Before you freak out: I believe in marketing. I even list a ton of resources to get you started. I’m not anti-marketing – but there is a right time to do it.

And there’s a time to avoid marketing as hard as you can. When is that time?

When you begin.

On Judging Early Efforts

When someone creates something because the love it, they search for others who share their love. They share this newly created thing with enthusiasm and joy.

Then some asshat comes along and calls it shit.

“It’s just not good,” the asshat may say. “Just look at it next to [professional artist’s work here]! You should give it up. I’m just trying to help!”

In most occasions, the asshat and the artist are both us.

The reason we feel the need to hold baby creations up to some 30-year pro’s for comparison is because our culture teaches us to judge all art according to salability – but salability is not the point of art.

The reason we feel the need to hold baby creations up to some 30-year pro's for comparison is because our culture teaches us to judge all art according to salability – but salability is not the point of art. Click To Tweet

We forget to judge early artistic efforts by the joy they bring. We forget about the fun involved, or the love driving their creation. We judge them by whether or not they will sell.

This chokes off the creative effort before it can grow.

This destroyed joy.

This must stop.

The Point of Art

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

Pablo Picasso

We create because we are human. We create to express the human things inside ourselves – love of stories and characters, love of beauty and drama, love of victory and defeat and learning and striving and growth and birth and death.

The purpose of art is not to sell it. Making money off it is a side-gig, an add-on. It’s not the heart.

Leo Tolstoy said the purpose of art is to teach you to love life. And that’s what I want

Nicholas Meyer

We judge new art too harshly because we are subconsciously comparing it to art that is sold to make a living.

When we do that, we are telling the world that art can’t exist for joy. That art can’t exist for fun. That art can’t exist to share interests with other humans.

When we do that, we are telling the world that worth only exists in the almighty dollar.

The purpose of art is nothing less than the upliftment of the human spirit.

Pope John Paul II

If you’re aiming at becoming a published author (or an artist with work on gallery walls, or a character designer with comic books on the shelves), that’s great. There will come a time for marketing.

But not at the beginning.

At the beginning, do not think about marketing or you run the risk of losing your joy.

Your Assignment, Should You Choose to Accept It…

Full confession: I fell into this trap.

My first book was written for the love of the story, not for the sales, and it came with freedom and joy, even though it took years to get right.

I lost that joy and freedom soon after.

It’s true that marketing matters, but I focused too much on what the reader wanted, on what my demographic was, on what would sell and what is currently selling, and in the process, I completely lost sight of what I wanted.

If you don’t love that art you’re creating, you’re not going to keep creating it.

If you don't love that art you're creating, you're not going to keep creating it. Click To Tweet

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to tackle your current creative project (or start a new one, if you’re in between) without thinking about salability.

Close your eyes. Remember what you love about this – how it inspired you in the first place – and do not consider that someday this thing might be sold.

I know that’s kind of like going, “Don’t think about elephants. Go!” I promise this is a thing you can do.

This might help: you have time to make it perfect. That’s what editing is about.

You have time to make it salable. Right now, you just have to enjoy.

What a wild concept! Create just for the joy of it?

Yes. Do that. Do that until your first draft or sketch or verse is written.

  • Remember why you started creating.
  • Remember the joy the first time you put words to paper or paintbrush to canvas.
  • Remember the first time you wrote a melody.
  • Remember the joy.

Love what you do, and I promise you will find your way to beautiful things.

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