“You never read my poems.” complained my sister-in-law.
She published her poems on Facebook and hated social media.
I had opened an account on Facebook eight years ago, during a trip to Vietnam, posted some travel photos from a couple of trips, and then forgot all about it.
Then last year, I did a cartooning course. The main requirement of the course was to post a sketch every day on Facebook.
No way! I wasn’t going to make a fool of myself on Facebook, where half of my family and most of my friends were always active.
So I opened an account on Instagram and started posting my sketches there.
The encouragement I got from a small number of people who started following me blew my mind.
I was addicted.
To social media.
But not in the way you might think.
I got addicted to social media because of three things.
- Learning in public
- Becoming a part of a scenius
- Self-promoting without self-promoting
Learning in public.
Social media opened for me a new way of operating. Almost all the people I learn and get inspiration from share their work and processes on social media. They are not running courses or doing seminars. They are too busy for that. Instead, they are sharing directly from their studios or home, where they are toiling away. Rather than being secretive about their work, they consistently post their work even if it is incomplete, faulty, and far from perfect. They are learning online, in public.
I discovered the best way to learn anything is to commit to learning in front of others. Figure out what you want to learn, follow people who are sharing their work, learn from them and share as you go, doesn’t matter how bad it is.
At this point, don’t worry about how you’ll make money or a career off it.
Be on the lookout for voices that you can fill with your efforts. With time you will find out your uniqueness.
On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between mediocre and good is vast. However, mediocrity is still in the range. You can still move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something. Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing. — Austin Kleon
Becoming a part of a scenius.
A musician, record producer, and visual artist Brian Eno, introduced a new model for learning and contributing. He called it “scenius.”
Under this model, great ideas are often given birth by a group of creative individuals — artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers — who make up an “ecology of talent.”
If we look closely, many people we think of as genius were part of “a whole scene of people who were looking at each other’s work, supporting each other, copying from each other, sharing and contributing ideas to each other.
Scenius acknowledge that good work isn’t created in a vacuum and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration. A result of a mind connected to other minds.
Internet is basically a bunch of “sceniuses” connected together. Blogs, social media, discussion boards, forums, newsletters — are all the same thing; virtual scenes where people hand out and talk about the things they care about.
There is no bouncer, no gatekeeper, and no barrier to entering these scenes.
Medium is a scenius. Writers get together here, learning from each other, collaborating, growing, and enhancing the ideas. Within Medium, there are many scenius — separated by categories, interests, subjects.
You don’t have to be talented to be part of a scenius. You don’t have to have any particular qualifications or be a master of specific skills to be part of these scenes. You need to be willing to learn and contribute. Online, everyone — the artist, the expert, the amateur, the master, and the apprentice — contributes.
Self-promoting without self-promoting.
I hate self-promotion. I am a subscriber to Comedian Steve Marin’s philosophy, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
I just want to focus on getting better and believe people who like my work will find me. Just like Austin Kleon says, “You don’t really find an audience for your work; they will find you. You just need to be findable.”
By sharing my work on social media I am making sure I am findable. I attract people who are interested in what I do. Not only my work but my ups and downs, failures and successes, hopes and aspirations all make me a person very much like my readers. As they get to know me better, they get invested in my success. That is better promotion than any PR company can do for me.
I had no idea something as simple as posting an amateurish sketch a day could connect me to my readers. So many people wrote to me saying they look forward to my sketches. Others root me for the improvements. They even give me suggestions for what I should sketch next time. My self-esteem had a real boost when one follower asked me to design the cover of his novel.
To sum up.
Now you know why I am addicted.
Social media has made the world smaller. It has made it possible to connect with people who share your interests and form “scenius.”
Rather than learning in isolation, learn in public. Forget about being an expert or a professional. Wear your amateurism with pride and share what you love. and people who love the same thing will find you.