Screw Giving Value
Each day I write. At least, that's the intention. This past week, I didn't write every day. I haven't felt quite like myself and in fact, I've been tired and full of angst. Messaging each day is critical to feeling my best.
If you've been feeling like crap, I believe you were drawn to THIS message because you need to recognize that you're an artist, an artist who must share it all.
But there are two little words you've heard a lot that lead you to pump the breaks on letting out the insights trapped inside of you that are -- if you don't let them out soon -- going to kill your soul.
These two little words--
Business coaches tell you to do this and the rules of so many Facebook Group say it...
The phrase "give value" is a terrible thing you can say to an artist, a writer, a creator.
All this week, as I wrestled with the thoughts and feelings in my head that keep me stuck (though they appear at first only to be the result of my stuckness), I kept zipping my lips. Or, more accurately, keeping my fingers away from the keyboard.
My birthday was this week and it stirred up resentment, self-judgement and shame. I looked around at my life -- which, just a week or two ago, I thought I felt happy with -- and instead of seeing a deep & abiding love, a Penthouse apartment and strong purpose propelling me forward, I saw a lack of money, a dearth of friends and no progress.
The truth is, I put in some hours this week helping someone clean out their basement full of junk to earn some dollars. This is someone I was helping a year ago, also then to earn some dollars.
I felt anger and pain because someone who I thought was a really good friend, who I also happened to be supporting in his online empire, completely disappeared on me after saying he was mailing me a check.
I was sad that nobody asked me to do anything on my birthday.
So I was dealing with all of this. And feeling like I should be beyond these things. But I couldn't let myself write about it. Because I'm (honestly still) embarrassed to share these things.
And then I hear this little fucking voice in my head saying: Give value.
What value would my reader get from hearing me share my disappointment? The part of me that wants to perform for you instead of just being ME thought, I can only talk about this after I'm through it, past it. Done. That my struggles are only valuable when I can put a frame on them and pretty them up and convey some kind of lesson.
So about that commandment issued by business coaches and marketing gurus...
First of all, I'm annoyed that so many coaches teach that sales is not value-giving. But let's talk about the other thing that's wrong with the whole "give value" edict.
By telling an artist to give value, you twist the art that needs to come out of the artist.
I've felt the pressure when I'm writing to make sure it rocks the reader's world, and that STOPS the magic right up.
Serious creative constipation is what happens when you start worrying about what the reader or viewer will get out of it.
Every artist should already come with the warning label, "Contents under pressure," and then when you tell them to "give value," it's like SHAKINGSHAKINGSHAKING the bottle and setting it back down again. It wants to explode.
I am a bit nervous to claim 'out loud' as bullshit the idea that we must create for other people even when we're open for business. In my business, I obviously care about my tribe, my clients and customers. But why should I force myself to create something I *think* you need to hear or read? I shouldn't!
And neither should you consciously contrive a message for your audience. That's when you create flat, boring content that nobody gives a fuck about, nor can remember 5 minutes later. It's the Chinese food of messaging: 30 minutes later, they need more.
How about you say what must be said? What YOU need to say?
That's when you'll write (or record or create) something powerful that sticks with them, that shifts them.
Say what you need to say.
Write what you must write.
Create what you must create.
I'm glad when my art shifts you, but I do it for me first.
And if you appreciate that I'm selfish about this, you're my people.
Oh, and always trust-
Your truth unlocks a whole big crazy cool life. Share if you dare!
With fervent hopes you'll return the love (truth),