The Commodity of Authenticity
Every writer/musician/graphic designer/artist of any kind knows you’re not supposed to create things with the goal of becoming famous and making millions of dollars. Except it’s rare to find a 100% authentic artist who said “Screw what everyone else wants, I’m going to do what I want and if they like it, they’ll come to me.”
Need proof? Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Post Malone, Justin Beiber, Ariana Grande, Cardi B, Lana Del Rey and basically any writer who worries about their site statistics and how many people retweet their posts.
The statistics will come if you do something that MATTERS, and you’ll feel way better about it. The celebrities I’m referring to set ridiculous standards in regards to music, and others try to be like them. It’s pretty easy considering they’re talentless and anyone can make some shit about cupcakes set it to autotune.
Standards are being set by talentless people and that’s the problem.
Katy Perry might be stupid successful but that doesn’t mean she’s providing us with something we’ve never seen. We’ve heard the lyrics, we’ve heard the message, and we’ve seen the same shitty haircut on the member of every emo pop-punk band. It’s the same old thing in a new package and it’s constructed out of what people will pay money for without thinking twice.
I mean, is she really even a human when it all comes down to it? Yes, this is where I reveal that Katy Perry is a cyborg. A cyborg with bad hair.
I know a lot of people who started a blog or website because they have something to say. Many are anonymous or semi-anonymous and write whatever they want. They say fuck, they talk about chemtrails and the time a guy used butter as lube, and people eat it up because they’re raw and uncensored and aren’t trying to please anyone.
They’re having fun and saying what they want to say.
Even those who aren’t anonymous and censor themselves a little do it in an original way that shows off their personality and isn’t the same tired crap being written on the next domain over.
Some look up to those who write for a living and are making good money. They realize how awesome that would be so they work hard and give it a go. Except they realize they’ll have to be less anonymous because they want it to be THEM, their BRAND, and everything they represent. It has to be different.
If they’re less anonymous, they have to change the things they write about. And their tone. They pay for an expensive layout because otherwise how will anyone take them seriously? Because all writers are also incredible web designers, and never say “shitballs” or “fuck bucket”, and they all go by the same uniform set of rules. So that’s what they have to do.
And they change. They’ll quit their full-time job and get cute business cards with their logo and it’s going to be SO AWESOME!
They start writing posts that appeal to the masses who read similar posts to theirs. They create specific categories and themes that’ll tie into their strategic daily posts. People will keep coming back each week for the Wonder Wednesday and Funny Friday posts to see what they’ve come up with. People will be eating out of their hands and they’ll be totally famous.
And then they’ll write a book titled “How to Become a Famous and Awesome Writer Like Me” that’s just a collection of their 253 articles on the subject, and it’ll be a New York Times Bestseller. They’ll be on Oprah talking about how their writing will change the world. They’ll reveal a few secrets about their success that involve “stay true to yourself” and “don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.”
Except they’re total hypocrites. The very thing they did was change everything that made them awesome so they could make money and do what people wanted, so they could quit their job and “insert fabricated talent here” for a living.
There are millions of articles out there and 98% of them are a carbon copy of the next with a different author’s name. Nobody wants to know what you had for breakfast, your cliche’d platitudes, or hear you make fun of the same politicians for the 48th time.
We all get cocky and start thinking we’re writers. We love doing it and we’re totally passionate about it so why can’t we write for a living? I mean, anyone can do it, right? RIGHT?!
Wrong! This is one of the biggest reasons writing and the journalism field sucks and is so diluted with garbage.While blogging is an excellent platform to start a career, the amount of “I have a blog so I can write and I should make money doing it” is excessive.
The internet has made it possible for anyone to create anything they want. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can doesn’t mean you actually have a talent for it.
Now everyone feels entitled to recognition because they think they’re decent at something they enjoy, and feel virtually anyone can do. That’s why we’re drowning in a deluge of verbal diarrhea.
This over saturation of mediocrity can cause doubt in the heart of any true artist seeking to express themselves with authenticity.
And this is when the changes start coming in.
The work is no longer their voice because they’re trying to figure out what everyone wants to read, so that’s what they’re creating. They’re not making anything authentic anymore despite that being exactly what they wanted: become rich and/or famous off their creativity and talent. Except that talent fell by the wayside, or was never really there to begin with.
The moment you start creating work to please others is the exact moment it begins to lose authenticity.
When you’re doing something you enjoy and decide to give it a go professionally, you’ll enjoy it far less when you realize the throngs of readers you’re sure will clamor for your mediocre regurgitation of the same trite topics fail to materialize.
You panic and think more is more so you start cranking out multiple pieces a day. Anything you can dole out with the quickness can’t be quality. It can’t. See: Forever 21 clothes vs. Chanel. What’s the saying? It takes six months to build a Rolls Royce and 13 hours to build a Toyota. So… yeah.
You’re playing it safe, writing what you think they want, but the masses still aren’t coming in. Why is it working for others and not you? Because they’ve been doing it longer, and probably better because it was their idea. You’re trying to copy what worked for them: their ideas, their style, down to their frequency of publishing. How’s that working out for you?
If you want to be successful with your creativity you have to ignore everyone else who’s doing what you want to do. There’s a huge difference between finding mentors, and trying to emulate other’s style or follow their path.
If you’re following others you can lose your own voice.
There’s no singular formula for success in the creative field. This isn’t the corporate world, there is no tried and true ladder to climb. You have to throw your own ninja stars at the wall and see what kills.
You have to assess your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, your connections and talents, and put together your own personalized plan of attack. One that will work for absolutely no one else on this planet but you.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s still imitation. Art forgers can recreate a Renoir indistinguishable from an original. Their skill is unquestionable, but it’s still someone else’s art. Where’s their voice? What do they want to say?
If you want to bombard the world with dull, ordinary, humdrum, uninspired essays and it’s working for you, and you’re rolling in the dough and have those literary agents champing at the bit and throwing book deals at you, then by all means, keep on keepin’ on. This advice ain’t for you.
But if you’ve got a voice, a view, an idea you haven’t seen expressed much and you’re afraid to tell the world what you think, you need to flip those fears the bird and put pen to paper. Someone out there needs to read your words.
You won’t get nearly the backlash you’re so sure you will because, Cold Hard Truth: no one is thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves. Just like you are right now.
It’ll start discussions, open eyes, and if someone truly is an asshole that’s what they made the block button for. Next!
Trust yourself. Be terrified and do it anyway. You may find writing isn’t your bag. You may discover it’s your calling. You may read an article about chemtrails and be inspired to join the CIA.
Do something different. Do something no one else is doing. Let your freak flag fly. It’ll be a beacon to others in your tribe. And don’t we all need more of that.