Last month, I published my first novella in over 10 years. The last time I released a novella, I worked with a small publisher and was required to do a bunch of promotion, such as hawk it on social media, do a blog tour (remember those?), beg for reviews, and waste money on swag to give away at a conference I attended.
This time around, as an indie writer, I hit “Publish” and went grocery shopping.
My bio on my website contains the phrase “enjoying my obscurity.” I haven’t had a social media account since 2015, and I don’t kid myself expecting that anything I write will draw tons of readers, but I’ve stopped caring because I’ve learned to value the process more than the results. With no imagined audience to perform for, I’m free to experiment, practice, and create on my own terms.
Austin Kleon has a great message for recent graduates about the advantages of obscurity:
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.
. . . .
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.
So if you’re struggling with “what will people think?” in your creative projects, it might be a good idea to turn off social media for a while, or even delete your accounts. I know it’s hard because we want people to care about our work, but acknowledging the reality that few people care resets your expectations and makes you truly appreciate any attention that you do get. Best of all, you can focus on the one thing that actually matters: practicing.