It’s Tuesday, it’s 11am, and you’re at your desk. That bender who sits opposite you is powering through her workload like a Chinese hamster, and you still haven’t managed to ‘fire off’ that email you’ve had the intention of firing since nine thirty. Your finger has been on the trigger, but you know, are you more of a ‘best regards’ or a ‘yours sincerely’ kind of person? The truth of the matter is, you don’t really care.
You don’t care, because in six months – a year, tops – you’re going to blow this proverbial popsicle stand. Because your band, blog, stand-up routine or Harry Potter slash fiction website is about to go global, and when it does, your colleagues are going to rue the day they ever asked you to file an invoice. That extra tab you have perpetually open on your work browser is your ticket out of here.
As someone who continuously has to ask themselves "Do my endeavours make everyone wish I was dead?" and "Am I an actual dickhead?", the issue of being a smug 'creative' type lies very close to home with me. It's basically my dream to be recognised for my *cough* artistic struggle, and while that has yet to happen, I feel like I have a good idea about how that's supposed to go. The following is a list of pointers on how to make a legitimate claim to creativity, without everyone hating you and the metaphorical horse you rode in on.
DO: Self Advertise
If Facebook, Twitter and whatever the most relevant social network is by the time this hits press has taught us anything, it’s that if you’re not self-advertising, you might as well not exist. If your project has a name, then it needs a Twitter account. If it has a fan, then it needs a Facebook fan page. Not only does this let everyone know that you’re there, churning out brilliance, hour after hour and year, but it also lets you form connections with those you would otherwise consider your rivals. Although many mistake Twitter as an outlet exclusively for logging the quality and consistency of your stools, it actually gives you unique access to the world’s most prominent creative geniuses. And their stools.
DON’T: Spam Your Friends
At the same time, there is no need to be a dick about this. Oh wow, you’ve made a new blog post? Yeah, you mentioned. An HOUR ago. Your band has a gig this Saturday? I think somewhere between the e-vite and the Facebook group you involuntary registered me in, I heard.
Do not be the reason somebody receives a Linked-In Reminder. Try not to use the word ‘reminder’ at all. Don’t update just to tell everybody you thought of a really cool t-shirt design today. Try to post tangible, informative updates. Don’t be a dick.
DO: Attend Open Mic Nights
Open Mic Nights, while famously wanky in nature, are the perfect place to foster a fan base for yourself, not to mention a perfect platform to try out new material. Every open mic night also has at least one semi-successful artist that shows up for an ego boost, and it is your job to pick this person for contacts. It won’t be hard to figure out who this is. He or she will have a disproportionate head-to-face hair ratio.
DON’T: Leave Once You’re Finished
Seriously dude? Come on. This is not why you came here. You are not going to get five minutes at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by doing the same routine every week and then pissing off. You will get those five minutes by getting pissed with a guy-who-knows-a-guy, who then introduces you to that guy.
DO: Expand Your Operation
You’re one talented son-of-a-bitch, so it stands to reason that you’ve got a few friends that are equally as talented. This is where you need to start calling in favours. Your flatmate does web design, and his girlfriend has a decent camera. No matter what you’re pursuing, both of these people are invaluable to you. Think of everyone you know with well-worded status updates. Would they like to write for your website? Of course they would! They’re flattered you even asked.
DON’T: Make Empty Promises
If you can’t pay someone now, don’t imply you ever will be able to. Buy them a drink, grab them around the shoulders, and say “Hey kiddo, wanna see your name up in internet lights?” To this, they will say “Why mister, I don’t know.” To this, you will respond: “You and me kid! You and me will take on the world!” If it feels appropriate, break into a song and dance number. If it doesn’t, then don’t.
Either way, let your friend know that you are willing to give them all the credit for the work they put in. Make them as excited about your project as you are. But make it clear from the beginning: you may never have the money to physically pay them back.
DO: Be Self-Deprecating
You’re not the first person to write a short story about a thinly veiled ex-girlfriend masquerading as a heinous sea creature, and you won’t be the last. Why not laugh about it? That shit is funny. If you think something you’re doing is even remotely cliché, either change it, or acknowledge it. Cliché’s exist because they serve a function, and just because you’re using one doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it.
DON’T: Undermine Your Work
“I wrote this in like, ten minutes. And I had a cold. And a fidgety arse. It’s a bit shit.” Yeah, now I really want to hear you talk about it.
DO: Take Advice
The person who sold their internet start-up within a year of creating it is worth listening to. The person who earns their entire income from their t-shirt business is worth listening to. Even if they’re product is CLEARLY inferior to yours, they have done something you are not doing, and they need to be listened to.
DON’T: Take it Too Seriously
Like absolutely everything (unless you’re feeling particularly religious) success is just a well-timed accident. The people who have it can’t guarantee it, and the people who deserve it may never see a shred of it. So relax, work hard, and most importantly: don’t be a dick about it.