Category Archives: writing tools

The case for the social share

A lot of creative people are reluctant to share their work, and thoughts, on social media, blogs and websites.

They (justifiably) worry about intellectual property theft, being unfairly trolled, and the shyness factor that’s the most common reaction when you show profound, personal work to strangers.

People may choose to avoid sharing. Or, they may share via a rigid, limited, or semi-private presentation framework, so they can control who sees what, as well as the formats and sizes of their work.

I’d like to make a case for open, casual sharing, including via Twitter and Pinterest:

When people read or view your work, even when no one gives you feedback, you’ll see your work through new eyes.

When you capture a moment in your creative life by openly sharing your work, if you’ve done it online, publicly, you’ve archived the moment. If, after some time, you go back to that moment, you’ll see your work through new eyes.

Open, casual sharing creates interactions that let you see others’ points of view, and use time itself, to create conceptual spaces that help you see your work in fresh ways.

The right kind of sharing brings oxygen into your creative process. It challenges your preconceptions. It lights up your imagination. Solutions develop on their own. Silly things become obvious. You edit yourself better. You develop more depth and complexity in content, and more simplicity and mercy in presentation.

Case in point: I’m writing this across the room from a TV, where Chromecast is playing a slide show. Some of the pics are generic photos, some are mine, and one of the latter is a photo of an oak tree.

Oak trees hold onto their leaves longer than other trees, in autumn. This tree has done that. It has a warm, dark brown trunk, and strangely-hung leaves like large, brittle catkins, which look striking, against an intense, yet placid, blue autumn sky veiled with thin clouds. The scene is backdropped by the tops of more-distant trees, some bare, some still with leaves.

I liked the scene enough to capture it a few years ago. But once captured, it made me feel uneasy. And I didn’t like sharing it. I didn’t understand what I liked about it, or didn’t like.

Now time, and an accidental and unexpectedly-large visual framework (the TV), are showing me a fresh view of the pic. Emotionally distant from it, I realize it’s just a good, strong composition. It has vibrant colors, forms and textures. What’s not to like? It’s not mine anymore. Except, it is. And time has taught me something about visual art, and myself, through this photo.

I posted it openly, casually, even though it made me uneasy, on my website, Google Photos, Pinterest, and Facebook.

The risk turned out to be negligible. The reward is joy.

A mystery solved (why did it make me uneasy? it was so strong, and I wasn’t, then). A discovery about art: I understand composition and framing better. Two learnings: where I was weak on behalf of my art, now I’m strong; where I was denying my softness, now I’m relaxed.

Oak at the Heather Garden, Fort Tryon Park, NYC (digital photo), by heather quinn