When we write, or we create art, or anything for that matter, is there a cause, a reason, an underlying passion, a mission?
When I began my podcast and was looking for great people to interview, I’ll be honest, it was more about me. I didn’t realise this at the time, but looking back, I was looking to grow my podcast (not a bad desire in itself) and I wanted guests to help me do that.
I did – and do – want to share great stories, whether they’re from well known people, or less well known stories But on reflection, back then I wanted names for what they could do for me, not how I could serve them.
It wasn’t to serve them. It wasn’t to learn from them. With the big names, wasn’t about advocating a particular message or cause It was simply to use their platform to advance mine. And fortunately, I didn’t get hardly any of the “big names” I wanted back then.
Thank goodness I didn’t. Because back then, my attitude was dead wrong.
Hearing stories from others – many of them were or have become good friends – and learning from them, actually showed me how poor my attitude had been to others. I’d not intended to be obsessed with ‘platform’. But I realised that on a subconscious level, I had been.
I was reminded everyone has a story and there’s many stories which need to be heard, which many of us haven’t – and all are valuable. Getting big names is great, but only if you’re interested in hearing their story, in serving them, in building relationship with them for their benefit as much as yours.
It has to be about the cause, the topic, the message – not about the ‘name’ or your platform building project.
And it reminded me of something about creativity.
If building a platform is the end goal, or if you find a cause or niche simply for the sake of building a platform, that’s not integrity. That’s not authenticity.
Some of the best blogs – and books – I’ve read were born simply out of an individuals passion and commitment to a particular topic or cause, not out of a desire to grow a platform. Rob Bell has said many times he creates the work that’s in him to create. He said on his podcast once:
“There’s no grand plan. I just create the next thing.” – Rob Bell
And this is what I want for my work. My goal shouldn’t be to build a platform for it’s own sake, but to have messages to I desperately want to share, causes to advocate for, and to create work which promotes those messages and supports those causes. And to use my (relatively small) platform as a space for others with messages I care about, whose voices need to be heard, to share their message too.
It’s Not About Your Kingdom
Now, does this mean, as artists, we stop creating for it’s own sake? Of course not. As a writer, journalling and free-writing, (in music, it’s jamming, in art it’s free-painting or sketching) is writing not to advocate a cause, but to find our inner voice. To give space for our souls to breathe.
And this is absolutely vital for our growth.
I’m a massive advocate of this ‘free-creating’ type of work and always will be. Sometimes it’s actually good to share that work to encourage others.
But the work we publish, the work we promote publicly can’t simply be to build our own kingdoms. So often I see writers find a cause to advocate for because they need one to grow their platform and develop their brand. Or pick on a trendy cause to write about because, again, it gets traction.
You know what that is? It’s deceitful. It’s maniuplative. And it’s totally self-centred.
I’ve been guilty of this too, at times. I hope, now, I’ve moved beyond that. But I still need to keep my eyes open, and keep accountable to others, just in case. We all do.
So don’t set out to build a platform. Set out to find what you care about, the messages you have to share, the causes you want to advocate for – and then go create and share work which supports those messages or causes. Do it well. Do it professionally. Promote it. Then surrender the outcome
Because it’s when we align our passions, with our talents, that we find our purpose and our calling (you can tweet that)
And, if you do build up a bigger platform, use it for good. Give it over to people without a voice, but who have a message to share. To people who support the causes you do.
The goal isn’t to build a platform. It’s be true to the passions, the causes we care about, and align them with our talents. And use whatever platform we have, big or small, to advocate for those messages, those causes.
Be an advocate, not a platform builder.
That’s where we really start to make a difference. And that’s where we find life.
Question for Reflection:
What’s the next thing you want to create…and why?
Let me know in the comments below?
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Want writing coaching? E-Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Picture Sources: artofstories.com / gsu.com )