Do you ever get upset when you finish writing an article or book, share it with people who say they care about you, but none of these friends actually read it? It happens to me all the time.
In fact, I’ve come to expect that friends will not read, share, or comment on my work. Is this a bad thing? In my opinion, it isn’t.
I don’t think we should expect the people we care about the most to read everything we write. If you push them to stay up on everything you’re doing, you might make them go away.
Perhaps you have a different feeling about this, but let me give you my reasons.
Good friends are better than fans.
People who are closest to me give support in other ways besides reading everything I write. I look to my real friends for emotional support when I’m going through challenges in life.
Having caring people to talk to or lean on when I’m going through tough times is one of the most important things to have in life.
They don’t need to be my biggest fans on top of all that.
As I get older, it becomes more challenging to make close friends. I have fewer opportunities to meet new people and less time to spend together with them to make a solid bond and build trust.
The friends I’ve had for many years, the ones I know I can talk to about anything with, are awesome to have as just that, friends.
Sometimes I just want to call up a buddy, talk about the latest episode of a TV show, laugh together, complain about the state of the world a little, and go on with my day. To me, that’s pretty great. Why should I expect them to spend their time reading through everything I make?
I’ll become another responsibility for them, maybe even a burden over time. If friends feel like, to stay friends with me, they have to read, like, comment, and share everything I make, our friendship may become too much to keep up with, and they could gradually fade away.
No thanks. I’d rather keep my friends and lift any burdens off their shoulders.
Creative friends might resent the fact that I’m producing regularly.
I write and draw Little Fried Chicken and Sushi comic strips about an American family living in Japan and post comics every week, and I’m writing 2–3 articles a week on Medium. My goals are to become a better writer and cartoonist, which keeps me fired up to produce every week.
That’s nice for me, but it’s not something everyone can, or even wants, to push themselves to do.
The friends I have who write and draw may work differently and have a different process. They might have something creative they want to put out there but feel like it’s not the right time or they’re not good enough yet. Some artists feel like you should stay “In the lab” until what you’re making is just right, then you can unleash it onto the world.
Looking at me, posting work that’s not perfect, sometimes not even high quality, may frustrate them. I believe in showing your work and sharing your progress and growth in public, not hiding it away until it seems professional-quality enough to share with the masses — but that’s my process.
Some artist friends may even feel upset that I’m doing what I said I would do when it comes to producing work consistently instead of just making excuses.
“How come Khalid gets to do work and put it out there regularly? It must be easy for him, or he wouldn’t do it.” they might say.
It’s not easy for me. Putting out comics and articles every week takes pushing through the discomfort of getting up earlier than everyone else in my family, writing and drawing before going to my teaching job, while also parenting my child.
Life is always throwing curve balls, and I need to keep producing no matter what. I have to come back to the fact that the desire to grow creatively and share my voice with the world, especially as a Black writer and artist, is what helps keep me moving forward.
There are days I want to quit.
At times, I wish I could tell all of that to friends, so they want to read more of my work, but I don’t want to guilt them into becoming fans.
Even though I love them, I’m not putting work out, so only they will read it. I’m looking to reach a wider audience.
The goal should be to gain more readers you don’t know personally.
Of course, one of the reasons for posting your writing and art online is to get more eyeballs on your work. I love the fact that the internet makes it possible for potentially millions of people to see what I’m creating every day.
I’m old enough to remember a world without the internet, growing up thinking someone will need to choose me to get published in order to reach readers.
It’s phenomenal what’s possible now online so it’s exciting anytime I get a new reader or follower. Sometimes I can’t believe how simple it really is and think, “You mean, all I have to do is keep posting work and there’s a good chance someone I don’t know will read it?”
These are exciting times!
With an unlimited possible worldwide audience, I’m not as concerned with how many people I know are paying attention to my work. It’s more astounding to me that people I’ve never met before are tuning in to see what I’m making.
Friends might like you, but not your work.
You know there are plenty of friends that love you as a person, enjoy spending time talking with you, but are too afraid to admit to your face that they don’t like your writing. They like you, but may not be into the work you produce.
Let’s say you love writing fantasy short stories, and they can’t stand fantasy. Should you expect them to read your work to prove they’re your good friend? Heck, no!
I’m aware that a lot of what I write about, travel, Japan, comics, might be of interest to some of the people I know. That doesn’t bother me and I think it shouldn’t bother you either.
Just like I can love some of Kanye West’s early music but not like him as a person, you can love a close friend but not want to consume what they create.
If you want more active readers and feedback, join writing groups.
When you’re looking for feedback on your writing and not getting any from friends, why not try joining online writing groups? You can find tons of them on Facebook or LinkedIn. Ask about them to writers you follow and see if they have one of their own or know any good options.
The only thing with writing groups is you have to give and not just take. It’s a community. If you want people to read your writing and give feedback, you’ll need to read the work of other members to help them out — be ready to genuinely give of your time and energy.
Let’s say, though, you’re lucky enough to have several good friends who’ll read your work and give feedback. First of all, congratulations. That’s difficult to come by and you should be forever grateful to them. You can think of these friends as your “Circle of trust.” If they’re open and brutally honest, you will grow as a writer and artist.
Having all of your friends read and comment on every single thing you make would be fantastic. Not all that realistic, if I’m being honest, and we shouldn’t expect it. Let people know what you do and tell them you’d love for them to check it out if they’re interested. That’s it. No expectations.
I think getting too disappointed more friends aren’t into your work is a waste of energy. Transfer that focus into getting better and attracting new fans you’ve never met. Making work for yourself and the people who love what you do, is what it’s really about.
Keep your close friends for good times and support when you need them the most.