Not too long ago I shared a blog post which was the most difficult I’ve ever had to share. Hitting the publish button for me isn’t usually an issue, but this one was different. This post covered arguably the two most divisive issues around – religion and politics.
And not only that, it’s title – “Why Jesus Would Welcome Refugees & Eat With Donald Trump” – had the potential to alienate both liberals and conservatives. Conservatives would disagree with me on refugees, and liberals on Donald Trump.
Above all though, it touched on a subject which many of my closest friends disagreed with me on – the idea we shouldn’t ban Donald Trump from the UK.
I admit, it was very tough to share this post. And out of sensitivity, I didn’t put it on my personal Facebook profile, because I’d already offended people with my response on a Facebook conversation a few weeks ago and didn’t want to stir this up again.
However, I didn’t hide the post. I still publicised and promoted it. On my writers page, on my Facebook group, on Twitter and elsewhere. Anyone could find it if they wanted.
Because if I didn’t do this, I’d have become a hypocrite.
I’ve talked a lot about being true to your own voice, sharing your heart, getting out what’s inside and having the courage to share it, without concerning yourself with the outcome. And to be true to that, this post simply had to be shared.
This was a message I cared about, which I wanted people to hear. It was me bearing my heart. And to be authentic, I had no choice but to share it.
And that’s the challenge all artists face. Do we really have the courage to share our work regardless of its outcome? Are we willing to share our work if there’s a chance it will lose us followers, or, even more challenging, lose us money?
There’s plenty of people out there who’d advise, quite articulately, that we shouldn’t take that risk. To share what we know our readers will like and leave it there. Many people talk about not asking permission from your readers, but then go ahead and ask them in a very subtle, passive-aggressive kind of way – all to ensure they are making work which will sell, which will get good SEO, and good numbers.
And you know what? I get that. People want to make a living. People want to be “successful”. Fear, security and certainty are powerful motivators.
But it’s not the way to authenticity.
And if we’re not being authentic in our work, we’re not living a life of integrity. (you can tweet that)
Authenticity Means Integrity
Authenticity is a word banded about a lot now. It’s become saturated, and over-used. But to me, at it’s core, it’s about honesty, integrity, being true to who you are, and being honest and vulnerable – to the degree it’s appropriate – in your work. It’s putting the quality, honesty and integrity of the work itself before the outcome.
Often I’ve seen people who pursue authenticity, who create what’s true to them and maybe don’t consult readers before creating, called amateurs, and accused of not caring about their readers.
But for me, if you truly care about your readers, you need to have integrity in your work. Which means being honest and vulnerable. It means sharing your heart. It means being true to your own voice. And it means being willing to bear your heart without fear of consequences.
I’ve fallen prey to the temptation to give people what I think they want to hear, rather than what’s really going on inside. This temptation is rooted in fear, and as artists or writers we need to push through that fear, to leave it behind, and focus on creating and sharing our most honest work.
The truth is though, even if in numbers terms a work is deemed to have “failed”, it’s not really a failure. The real failure would have been to be unfaithful to your own voice.
So go on, have the courage to share the most difficult, but most honest work you can. Be true to your own voice. Be willing to risk failure. And there you’ll find your authentic self. Your true voice.
It might or might not be the best selling, most read work. But one thing you will have done, is create your most honest, authentic work.
And that’s worth more than any money or fame.
Question For Reflection:
How can you avoid the temptation to people please with your work?
Let me know in the comments below!
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(Picture Sources: copyblogger.com / universalcourage.com)
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Hi, I’m James. I live near London. I’m a fan of good food, comic-book movies, & books. I love to write, and I coach other writers & creative people. Thank you for being part of my community. read more...
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