Working in Earnest (unsung pros. of accountability)
There are a lot of authors and creatives out there who’ve become household names along with their work. Even if you don’t care for or are uninterested, it’s difficult to escape the sheer gravitational pull of their success. Then you could say a tier or two below them are other successful creatives whose work is big, but not really household names yet. Then below that are more niche and burgeoning creatives, people that are still looking for or have only just found the right audience. But all of these people have risen above a sea of others who either aren’t motivated, skilled, or committed enough to get off the ground.
A possible reason I’d like to think contributes to creative success, growth, and even just getting going at all is having accountability for your work. Speaking from personal experience, having someone -anyone- keeping an eye on you if only to just ask how it’s going makes a big difference in whatever you’re working on. Too often you hear horror stories about the opposite problem, about people being crushed under the weight of expectations and all the eyes watching, but having nothing at all can also be bad. Say you’re working on your “passion project” for months when all of a sudden, the passion runs out. If no one is watching or even knows about it, what’s to stop it from being tucked away in some attic (or these days, a buried desktop folder) and forgotten for all time? Having the accountability of even just one person asking “so how’s that thing coming along?” can help push you through a motivational drought even when you don’t feel like it.
As has become an unintentional theme in my blog posts (see Do what you Love . . . Just not always), this is best in moderation. A passion project that others think is great may have become torture for you to continue, or the expectations of others may wind up conflicting with your own. The point I’m trying to get at is that having other people to carry you forward when the passion dries up is extremely beneficial to any creative work. That’s actually part of the reason I ended up shifting to crowdfunding. Now, not only do I have people watching me, but I have dedicated people giving me money in the expectation that I would continue forward with my work. I think that in terms of where I am creatively, I would be years behind where I am today if not for the accountability of others.