Monday, June 4, 2012

In the Beginning, Obscurity is Good

Yet another installment from Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (you can find him and his awesome book here).

This chapter falls under Rule 6: The Secret: Do Good Work and Share It With People. I find it a particular comfort and inspiration:

In the Beginning, Obscurity is Good.

I get a lot of e-mails from young people who ask, "How do I get discovered?"

I sympathize with them. There is a kind of fallout that happens when you leave college. The classroom is a wonderful, if artificial, place: Your professor gets paid to pay attention to your ideas, and your classmates are paying to pay attention to your ideas. Never again in your life will you have such a captive audience.

Soon after, you learn that most of the world doesn't necessarily care about what you think. It sounds harsh, but it's true. As the writer Steven Pressfield says, "It's not that people are mean or cruel, they're just busy."

This is actually a good thing, because you want attention only after you're doing really good work. There's no pressure when you're unknown. You can do what you want. Experiment. Do things just for the fun of it. When you're unknown, there's nothing to distract you from getting better. No public image to manage. No huge paycheck on the line. No stockholders. No e-mails from your agent. No hangers-on.

You'll never get that freedom back again once people start paying you attention, and especially not once they start paying you money.

Enjoy your obscurity while it lasts. Use it.


  1. Hello! I had a question about your novel; the sidebar says you're currently working on an urban fantasy. As I'm guessing this is a pretty specific genre, could you tell me more about it? And I don't know how much you'd want to reveal about the book you're writing, but I would love a summary if you feel like giving one!
    Be well,

    1. Hi Lindsey! Because I'm trying to focus on writing right now, I'm WAY behind on blogging, but I should have a post about my new project up soon.

      As for what Urban Fantasy is, here's the link to the Wikipedia page for it:
      I always consider it as real life but with fantasy elements (such as magic or paranormal/supernatural creatures) taking place in a city setting.