Every writer, every singer, every actor, comic, dancer, musician, poet, painter, DJ, reporter, journalist, worker, politician, everyone, wants to make money in their chosen path, be successful, be adored, be famous. In short, everyone want to be a rock star. And everyone can be. However, it takes time to develop an audience.
We live in a time where the internet and television bring us instance gratification. Computer games and social media cut away at patience. We want what we want and we want it now!
But it takes time to create a good book, a great painting, a hilarious act, a fantastic performance. And while some people can do it within a few months or maybe just a few years, it still takes commitment, patience, and time.
So many of us give up so easy. Some begin to doubt themselves, even doubt the world. “No one notices me”, “No one recognizes talent anymore”, “People want crap so I’ll give them crap”, “F… the world”. These are common feelings among creative people. Everyone, since the dawn of time, perhaps even some of the first cave painters, has had times when they doubted themselves or felt angry at society because their talent wasn’t instantly recognized.
Sure, there may have been some people who have never felt this way. But secretly, maybe they did, even if only for a nanosecond. Even Jesus had doubts. In the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night before he was taken prisoner, he doubted himself, if just for a tiny moment.
Self-doubt is a common theme in Society and in fiction. Look at Barry Allen in the CW series “The Flash”. Here he has this wonderful super power and yet he constantly doubts whether he’s good enough, fast enough, brave enough. (I so tired to this. Let’s give the boy a little ego boost for a change.)
And Ego is just the problem for all of us. We want to be recognized and we want to be recognized now.
But what we forget, or choose to ignore, is that it takes time to build an audience. That’s why politicians, generally, start out small, running for mayor or state senator before going on to Congress or the Senate, or even the Presidency.
Everyone needs an audience, recognition. But all the advertising in the world won’t bring you success or sales if you don’t have a good product. All advertising brings is people willing to look at what you have. Then it’s all your responsibility to hook them with good writing, crisp dialogue, great singing, hilarious jokes, whatever it takes to accomplish your goal of recognition and fame.
Whether you’re trying to move up in your business, or make money selling cars or food, it takes time to gather support. Author Ray Bradbury said it took ten to fifteen years to gather the fame you need to live modestly on your work. And a few more years after that for more success.
We all know that success takes hard work. But we all think that the handwork will bring us instant success. Yet an audience isn’t developed by advertising, but by word of mouth. One person reads your book, or listens to your jokes, loves your singing, loves your art, or watches your show and recommends it to someone else. Eventually, like falling dominoes knocking the next domino down, you develop an audience.
Recognition takes time. But don’t suppose that because you’ve gained some recognition, you can take off for a few years and come back and your audience will still be there, because a fledgling audience is like a fresh egg, delicate. Run off for a few years and your egg rots away. The same’s true of your audience. One or two followers may remember you, but everyone else will most likely have forgotten you.
And don’t think that your audience will be happy with one or two works. Nowadays, people want new work from you every few months, or at the very least, once a year.
Successful artists live off of new works. Lots and lots of new works. Shakespeare didn’t write just “Julius Caesar” and “Romeo and Juliet” and leave it at that. He wrote dozens of plays.
Likewise, one Ironman movie wasn’t enough, nor one Star Trek movie. Your audience wants more and you have to give it to them. And even if your audience starts out small, be patient and give it time. If you constantly put your best efforts into your work, your audience will grow.
When the first Star Wars movie came out forty years ago, I was one of maybe fifty people in the theater. It had been out for a week and no one really knew what it was. But a week later, I stood in line for hours while waiting to see it a second time.
So, be patient. Work hard. Keep producing. And don’t give up.
See you out there.