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Ratcheting Expectations in World that Demands Viral

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Again: what does success look like for my project?

Do you have outsized notions of what is important?

Of course you do.

We all do, because we assume (wrongly) that what is important to me is important to everyone. Turns out that is not the case. For all the videos or stories or songs that go viral, there are countless that arrive stillborn—at least as far as numbers go.

What shadow will your project cast?

What shadow will your project cast?

It’s easy enough to see that not everyone shares our passions and drives. Not everyone is fascinated by Star Wars or Wes Anderson films, for instance. Not everyone longs to spend hours tinkering with their lawn, or building perfect pectorals or diagramming the stars in the night sky. Not everyone asks “Why?” Not everyone asks “How can I do that myself?”

So if we are looking for our idea to go viral, we had better negotiate together what we consider viral. Will my idea get 3 million views? 3000? 30? And which am I satisfied with? What can we be satisfied with? That’s worth talking about before a project goes out the door.

I’m reminded of that bit of faith that writing will find its audience. As we prepare to launch our idea, and as we talk about who is open to hearing/acting on the idea, some frank talk about what success looks like will help immensely. Realistic expectations at the beginning of the project will help set the stage for the eventual self-scourgings or pats on the back, in a week or month or year, when you see how the project did or did not do.

And for the artist or writer—just doing the work may be enough.

And maybe that is not a bad place to dwell.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

May 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

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