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Share with authenticity and intention
How ignoring expectations from others can honor why you create and how you engage readers
This week, my wife and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. Two weeks ago, we celebrated my son’s bar mitzvah. In thinking about these milestones, I’ve been considering ideas that can help you feel good about how you share your writing and creative work.
I speak with writers and artists all the time who worry that there aren’t authentic and meaningful ways to share what they create. Today’s essay is a bit more personal than usual, but I promise to include practical insights encouraging you to have permission to share in a manner that feels completely authentic to who you are, and your mission as a writer. Okay, let’s dig in…
Create Experiences That are Authentic to Who You Are
My wife is an amazing artist who continues to learn new skills and grow as a creator. This has not changed from who she was twenty years ago when we decided to design our wedding in a do-it-yourself (DIY) manner.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: my wedding had a theme. The theme? Fairies. Yep, I had a fairy themed wedding. It was 2003, and fairies were all the rage, I suppose.
My wife created every detail of the wedding decorations and theme. She spent a year working on this. Let’s take a photo tour of all the decor she made, shall we? We can start with the wings she made for herself, and all of her bridesmaids:
The cake topper:
The fairy house that welcomed everyone:
The name cards that told each guest where to sit:
The photo display:
Wings hung everywhere:
She made over 125 fairies — each unique — to give to every guest:
Here’s a closeup of some of them:
For gifts for the bridesmaids, these books were pre-made from the store, but she painted them and filled them with crafty treats!
This custom quilt wall hanging:
This sign for the bubbles handed out to each person for the ceremony:
The guestbook (and sign):
We created a wedding that felt completely authentic to who we are, and what we wanted the experience to be.
As you share what you create — whether that is developing a public presence as a writer, sharing your writing, or launching a book — I encourage you to do it in a manner that feels authentic to you. Too often, we feel pressure to do things at a “professional level.” Yet, oftentimes that feels hollow, and is completely ineffective. A personal approach can be filled with charm, and that engages people deeply. I tried to illustrate this in my case study last week, wheresent out these amazing packages of items to promote her book.
When you decide how to share and show up online, don’t make it a copy of a copy of a copy of something that someone else did years ago. Make it your own. And please, don’t half-bake it. Go all in with what feels authentic to what you create and why.
That can sometimes be scary. I’ll be honest, I was nervous about writing this very newsletter, fearing it focused too much on events that you may not care about. But sharing the richness of experiences that I have had is the only thing that is truly unique to me. And you have that same opportunity in what you share, and how you do it.
Ignore Expectations to Honor Your Intentions
My older son had his bar mitzvah recently, and in many ways, it was the world’s smallest bar mitzvah. If you aren’t familiar, a bar mitzvah is typically like many other big events: a ceremony that lasts an hour or so, followed by a big formal party. Usually, the party is exactly like a wedding, with a DJ, lights, music, a fancy cake, seating arrangements, tons of food, and dancing dancing dancing.
But we did something different. The goal was to honor my son and the milestone he was reaching, as well as experience the traditions of the ceremony. In planning for this event, it can almost be defined by all the things we didn’t do, because these things are so often expected:
We didn’t hire a photographer.
We didn’t hire a DJ.
We didn’t hire a caterer.
We didn’t invite 100+ people.
Instead, we meticulously planned for the ceremony itself, with my son practicing for months and months, with incredible support from the temple staff.
We invited just immediate family and my son’s best friends. Those who were able, came and those who couldn’t attend sent generous well wishes. In total, we had 10 people, including my son! Here I am with both of my kids on the big day:
We rented out another room in the temple for a luncheon, had food delivered from an amazing deli, brought our own cake, and… we just talked! It was lovely.
Did we miss out? Did I rob my son of some memorable experience by not doing a huge party? Who knows. Maybe there is some alternate universe where I planned a party that cost $35,000, and I ended up saying, “that is the best idea I ever had!” But that isn’t this universe. We did what felt right to us.
By letting go of the expectations of others, we created a moment that honored our intentions of being fully present for my son, and enjoyed the nuances of this tradition.
In how you create and share, I encourage you to ignore the expectations of others, and honor the intentions of your creative vision. It is unique to you and filled with so much potential.
Thank you for being here with me.