We like being recognized for the work we do. This is even more relevant now, with the idea of documenting everything you do. (If it isn’t documented, did it happen?) We don’t want to do work unless there is some reward attached.
This is true for both the “regular” work we do as well as our side projects. Despite claiming to enjoy what we do, I have fundamental doubts about how many people would continue doing what they do if no one cared about their work.
When nobody cares about your work, it’s not easy to keep going. We wonder if our work is ever going to do anything. By definition, most of what we create is to cause a change in someone. Without an audience, it can seem pointless to continue.
However, the trouble is that having people look at our work is not enough to sustain us over the long run. It might provide a boost of motivation, but it’s not sustainable. It flickers out. Even worse, consider the beginning of any pursuit. You have this work that you’re doing, and nobody cares. You’re creating in a vacuum, so how do you continue?
Simple. You fall in love with the work.
It’s the only option that will last you a lifetime. If you can find an activity that you will do even if no one watches, you’re set for life. Suddenly, you’re free from the clutches of an audience, and you can get on with making the work that matters to you.
Will this mean you will build an audience later on? Of course not. Growing an audience is a difficult thing, and a lot of it is out of your control. However, if you’re already content with doing the work in a consistent manner, you’re setting yourself up to grow an audience.
There’s nothing wrong with having an audience and being motivated by it to create more. We all feel this when we have an audience. The question is: Would you do the work anyway? The sooner you can find the pursuit in which the answer is “yes”, the easier it will be to get an audience later.
Don’t start with chasing what everyone else enjoys. Start with what you like. After all, you’re the one on this creative journey. You get to decide what to do. Make it count.