Paying Attention vs. Seeking attention

In a world full of content creation, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating for the sake of subs/clicks/followers, in lieu of that creating being in service of itself.

I myself am guilty of this.

I started this blog as a creative outlet, with no real designs or thought around making it into something more than just that. It would serve as record of stories from my past, things I enjoy and whatever else I felt “fit” into the idea of what TPV should “be.” I’m no writer, nor have I ever taken any writing classes or any formalized creative writing training. By all accounts, my writing is atrocious, and anyone who reads any of my posts cringes at the complete grammatical failings that I continue to pump out.

As I got in to somewhat of a groove with articles on TPV, in the back of my mind, there was this small voice asking, “will this help attract readers?” Even though I had told myself that if not a single person ever read anything I wrote, that was fine by me. I was doing this for myself, and for the sake of having a creative outlet in a world of crazy.

This voice continued to increase in volume as more content was added to the site. I found myself stopping some articles mid-creation because I wasn’t sure if it was going to produce the most views and visitors possible. This voice was beginning to dictate my creative output. As I looked at other content creators, and their ability to attract attention, that only fueled that inner voice.

I got to a point where I was convinced that what I have to say isn’t really all that interesting. The full on pity party had begun.

And that my friends, was when I hit the low point.

I was more focused on seeking attention over paying attention.

More interested in ways to generate self-validation over nurturing and cultivating your creative self. To be fair, having others see and appreciate your work is never a bad thing in and of itself. There are healthy ways that you can reinforce your work. However conversely, that approval from others can also create a seed that when left unchecked, can grow into something very unhealthy.

That seeking attention inner voice also was telling me that because I have such a wide array of interests, that it was hurting my ability to get attention from others. That I needed to narrow the focus of TPV and have it only be about X hobby or interest. Just pick one and do it as good as you possibly can. My jack-of-all trades existence was a liability, not an asset.

Hell, the analytics for TPV back this theory up. My two most viewed posts so far are my Nichelle Nichols story and the time I happened to be watching WOTC’s Magic twitch stream and posted about their upcoming partnership that will see them release Warhammer 40K and LOTR sets. I have a passing interest in Magic, to the point where I own a handful of commander decks and play very casually with friends. I am in no way an authority on the game.

But after seeing the analytics for that post, I had the thought that maybe I should shift TPV’s focus and that would give me the attention I thought I needed.

And then I came across this Ted Talk from Joseph Gordon Levitt. And it really struck a nerve. The idea that craving attention will actually make you less creative. That purposefully creating content for the sole or main purpose of seeking attention will actually hinder your creative output. After watching the almost 14 minute talk, I knew that seeking attention wasn’t what I wanted (even though a teeny tiny part of me still thinks it would be swell) for TPV. Even if no one ever reads this site, that it was okay. That I was creating because it is healthy and always has been, for me to create.

Where does this epiphany leave me?

Honestly? I’d be lying if I were to say that I wake up tomorrow and suddenly I had slew of new view/followers/whatever that it wouldn’t be nice. But I’m not going to let that inner voice have a say in what I create, regardless of what it may garner in the way of attention. People will either read my articles, or they won’t. What I need to make sure of moving forward is that I don’t let the idea of seeking attention interfere with my creative process. Whether here at TPV or otherwise.

I’m going to make sure that I’m paying attention instead of seeking it. Paying attention to my creative process. Paying attention to the art, the writing and anything else that is involved with my creative process. Paying attention to those around me and the larger world I live in. Overall, I’m going to pay attention to the things that help me create, instead of hinder.

So I would encourage you, if you’ve always had a thought about creating content, if online or not, to don’t get wrapped up in seeking attention for your work. Instead focus on the work itself, and allow yourself to create the best work you’re capable of.

Ultimately that mindset will lead you to a place where you’re getting the most out of your creative talents. And you’ll be more fulfilled in the end.

I leave you with another picture of Bowie, because it’s fucking Bowie.


As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!

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