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The Joy of Creating for an Audience of None

I walked through our front door and found my 5-year-old quietly drawing at our kitchen table. 

I wanted to join him. 

But since he was biting his tongue clearly lost in concentration — and remembering how much I hate it when people bother me when I’m in the “biting-tongue” zone — I opted for silence. 

Every few minutes though, curious as to what he was so obsessed with, I walked past him to sneak a peak. 

“Is that a yellow cow?” I thought to myself only seeing partial snippets. “Or maybe it’s an overweight cheetah?”

When the tongue-biting was finally done, I went over to him and said, “That’s super cool, what is it?”

The next words that came out of his mouth leveled me. 

With the exception of the time he scored a goal on me and then proceeded to moon me, I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder to be his dad. 

“I’ve never seen a giraffe without a neck before,” he said, “and I wanted to see one — so I drew one.”

Everywhere we turn we’re bombarded with advice to write for our readers. 

To put our audience first.
To imagine just one person.
To give them what they want. 

Maybe it’s because I’m biased— but aren’t my kid’s words a helluva lot more inspirational and even more fun?

Quietly scratching your own itch.
Quietly defining your own lines. 
Quietly making the stuff you want to see in the world. 

We live in a beautiful time where we can make a living creating online. But my kid’s words serve as a powerful reminder of the value of making stuff for an audience of none.

To let it rip. 
To make first and breathe later.
To be completely free.

Looking back, the one thing that all my favorite creations have in common is I treated my curiosity as my only responsibility. 

I couldn’t not write them.
No audience in mind.
Just me. 

My feelings.
My thoughts.
My stories.

I got so obsessed with the self-expression I bit my tongue like I didn’t need it later for dinner — and didn’t stop chomping on it until it was done.

No polish.
Zero packaging.

glass of water
A giraffe without a neck.

The beauty of creating stuff for a living is we get to follow our nose until we don’t have a nose left to follow. 

Steal a line from my kid and chase your nose wherever it goes. 

Allow yourself to get lost and don’t stop creating until you’re found. 

Curiosity is a word that was meant to be followed.

Like my mom said, “It keeps us interested. It makes us interesting. No matter our age, it keeps us young.

Thank you for reading.
Make the art you want to see in the world.
Everyone else’s is already taken. 
 — Michael

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