Saturday, February 13, 2016

Promoting Yourself as an Artist

I found this awesome video about 5 mistakes that artists make:

Great advice, definitely things that I need to keep in mind when I start selling books.

The last piece of advice is something I hear a lot about artists - that we have a tendency to put ourselves down when we really should be promoting ourselves. I've always had a hard time figuring out how to talk about my writing in a way that is not self-depreciating, but also not bragging. It always feels like there's fine line between being confident about my work and bragging about it. But after watching this video, something hit me about that final piece of advice:

When you have a job that's not an artist - say, you work as a nurse - and someone asks you, "What do you do for a living?" you would probably just answer, "I'm a nurse." There wouldn't be any doubt or insecurity about whether you really are a nurse if you're working as one, but you also wouldn't be bragging. Sure, there are some jobs like being a doctor or a CEO where you feel like you're bragging, but for most jobs, you would just say, "This is what I do," as a matter-of-fact answer.  No bragging and no self-doubt. So, why is it so hard to say, "I'm a cartoonist," "I'm a photographer," "I'm a graphic designer" in the same way? 

A couple years ago, I began a new job that I sucked at. I really, really did not think I was doing a good job. Maybe I was being a bit self-depreciating, because it seems like my boss thought I was doing fine and wanted me to stay in the position, but I felt extremely insecure and like I couldn't keep up and had no idea what I was doing half the time. During the time when I had this job, whenever someone asked me what I did for a living, I would tell them what my job was. I would say, in a matter-of-fact tone, "This is what I do for a living." The fact that I didn't think I was good at my job never made me question whether I could say, "This is what I do." It never caused me to say what I did in a questioning tone, like, "Well, I sort of do this, but I'm not very good, but I'm trying to make it..." even though that actually would have described me perfectly in my first couple months of that new job. I never questioned what I did because I got my paycheck every week, I got constant affirmation that this job was what I did, even if I wasn't perfect at it.

I can write much better than I could do that job. If you are a singer, musician, fashion designer, or any type of artist trying to make a living from your passion, I'm willing to bet that you are much, much better at what you do than I was at that job last year. 

I'm not here to tell you how to feel. You can't just tell someone, "Feel confident about your art!" when they don't. But if you're struggling with how to sound confident about what you do, if you're not sure where that line is between being self-depreciating and bragging, try saying, "I'm a graphic artist" in the same tone that you would say, "I'm a nurse," "I'm a teacher," "I work in accounts receivable." Even if you're working on commission, even if you are not yet able to financially support yourself with your art, just say, "This is what I do," it like it is what you do. Because it is. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Snow Day Editing

In some ways, editing is way better that writing the first draft. There's none of that "What if I get to 130 pages and realize I've said all I have to say? What if this just won't make a book?" anxiety. I feel secure that I've made it. That it's gonna be good...

But on the other hand, when you're first-drafting, you get to say, "Yay! I wrote 10 pages today!" But when you're editing, it's more like, "Um...I spent all day working on this and I'm still on the same page."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Party Time!!!

42 hours till it's party time!!!!!!

Birthday cupcakes in the oven. Decorating done. Just waiting...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Conditions You Must Meet Before You Have ANY Business Telling Me to Write a Happy Story

1. You must be telling me to write a happy story 100% as writing advice, in the same way that you might advise someone to try writing a story in present tense or in third person. The same way you might advise any writer to try something new, NOT because you think it's better or it's what they should be doing, but just as a way of expanding their horizons. It has to be 100% writing advice, and have absolutely no implications about me becoming a positive energy person or talking about happier things in real life. If I wanted to talk about happy stuff, I would. I do not contain positive energy.

2. Since it's difficult to separate pure writing advice from "be a positive person" advice (because most people giving me the advice to write a happy story would be mixing the two), you must also have some business giving me writing advice in the first place. If you don't have any business doing that, then I suspect you're trying to make me into a positive person. Here is how I define having business giving me advice:

       A. You're a writer as well, and we regularly talk about writing and give each other advice. It would be normal for you to give me a writing suggestion, and you can clearly explain why you think that writing a happy story would be a good idea. You fully accept and respect the point I'm trying to get across, and as a writer yourself, you understand how making a negative story into a positive one could impact my readers and make my writing more effective.

       B. You may not be a writer yourself, but I have asked you for advice on a specific piece of writing, and you have identified a place where a happy story would be helpful. Like the person in scenario A, you fully accept and respect what I am trying to say, and you can clearly explain why a happy story would be effective. It's clear to me that you are not trying to alter my message.

3. You have never pressured me to be a positive person in other situations, such as pushing me to post less on Facebook and not complain so much. I have no reason to be suspicious that you would try to get me to be positive in my writing unless you truly believed that it would be more effective.