Pay Attention to the Things That Matter

“I just got retweeted by Celebrity X! I can now die happy!”

As creative people, attention is our stock in trade. We cannot sell our “product” to a disinterested public. Therefore, whenever someone in a more visible position than us pays us some attention, we tend to over-inflate this importance, especially in the mildest of cases. Twitter is an especially dangerous place for this, as the platform is so immediate and seemingly so personal that we can mistake a simple click on an icon for a deep interaction. So many creators live for the moment when their heroes acknowledge the work we’re doing, and yet, very few of us will have the opportunity to present our work to those people who inspired us, never mind asking for their opinions. Therefore, these small, essentially meaningless micro-interactions hold a lot more weight than they probably should, distracting us from the work that we probably should be doing, in order to grow as artists.

“Look at this hate comment I got! People are so stupid on YouTube!”

Similarly, the disgruntled ramblings of people who aren’t consuming our creative output for anything other than mean-spirited taunting can throw us off our game. While true community-building can help any artist to find a passionate audience, paying too much attention to the caustic outliers who spend their time spewing vitriol in the comments section can either demotivate us, or motivate us for the wrong reasons. Making art in response to adversity is a tried and true tradition, but when the adversity is some unknown stranger spilling a few dribbles of poison then moving on to the next video or photo or essay, this is merely a distraction.

This isn’t to say that the small victories or annoyances are to be completely ignored. Sometimes, they can be the only things that keep us going. The main thing is to remember that these are not the main reason why you started creating, and they shouldn’t be the main reason to continue creating, or any reason to stop.

Remember where your work is headed, and whatever happens to clutter the path or distract you along the way can be acknowledged, dealt with, and then continue moving.

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