Earlier this summer, I read this thoughtful question from JC in our Discord and I've been cooking up a response now for a long time. Here's what she wrote:
I'm here to try to learn to enjoy art for its own sake, reveling in the journey, not focusing on the outcome. But putting our work online (particularly when using social media), we encounter reinforcement in other forms, through engagement, followers, others' enthusiasm for our work. It seems to be a distraction from our own felt sense at best, and totally hijacking our motivation at worst. No problem if you're enjoying creating and your audience (and the algorithm) like it too, but what if those things don't align, or if creating for the addictive reinforcers of likes and follows stifles your creativity? Do you have any tips for navigating this? Do we just have to doggedly ignore those external opportunities for reinforcement, and cope with the punishing feeling of little engagement when posting about our process-driven creative play? It feels like a silly thing to ask, but we all know how real the impact of online platforms on our brain chemistry at this point. Is this just causing a conflict because I'm feeling my way towards a creative business and finding that hard to integrate with comfortable, intuitive creativity?
I love this question because it gets right to the heart of the issue. Social media is not geared to foster our felt sense of anything, and every single interaction is up for feedback - both active and passive, with the lack of positive reinforcement (or outright critical) often being more powerful than whatever encouragement we do receive. I experience everything JC described so perfectly here all the time.
My response has been acceptance, indefatigable boundaries and a curiosity around getting to know myself which allow me to try to harness the energy I can use, protect myself, and learn what I can along the way. Then, I try to meet my needs, most of which happens away from the media feeds.
I'm going to address this last part of the question, about the shifts that happen when we move toward having a creative business, in Part II. I'll also go in depth about how I personally approach using Instagram, the boundaries I like, and the ideas that have helped me the most as I've grown a community around my work.