I spoke at the HippoCamp Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference with my long-time colleague Jeanette Hurt about the starving artist myth. The problem, as we argue in our financial book The Passive Writer, is that we don't value the worth of the work we do.
HippoCamp keynote speaker and author Jacki Lyden summed it up even better:
Just because the newspapers are folding, doesn't mean that the need to tell those stories is gone.
Our former media outlets are, indeed, disappearing, but I think Lyden is also making a bigger point about creators: We need you to tell your story no matter what the climate.
First, know your story
Why are you so determined to do what you do? It could come from a challenging time, a frustrating moment or a tough lesson unique to you. As I share in The Ultimate Bite-Sized Entrepreneur:
At its best, your wound will act like a slingshot: Whatever you think held you back before will give you more momentum than others who aren't fighting the same fight.
The energy you have to change the world doesn't just magically appear. It comes from something you feel like you need to fix. This is your story.
Second, tell your story
The greatest disservice we do to ourselves is thinking that our story doesn't matter. I sold my startup, as did Steve Jobs, as did Elon Musk. And our paths couldn't be much more different - their story is not mine.
It is absolutely crucial that you share your perspective, if you're going to make any difference to the future. I do it through writing and public speaking. You could do it through mentorship, or serial entrepreneurship, or politics.
It doesn't matter, as Lyden says, if not every place supports your story. The story still needs to be told. Just focus on sharing it with the right people in which it resonates.
Third, live your story
TED Speaker Nilofer Merchant, in her book The Power of Onlyness, talks about signaling your community. How can you attract your advocates, your colleagues and your tribe if you aren't showing yourself?
It isn't just going to conferences and passing out business cards. It's showing up when you pitch your product. It is making yourself vulnerable when you need support. It is allowing yourself to be seen in each and every thing you do.