Article by Curry Zawa Kaoru
Without any publicity or outreach, no one came to my table for three events in a row
Talk about delayed reaction!
It’s taken quite a long time for you to start feeling this pain, don’t you think?
No one is reading your work and no one gives you any feedback—these two fatal wounds are more than enough to make both pro and amateur creators alike quit altogether.
If I post a doodle on X (formerly Twitter) and only get two likes, I get depressed, and I have to calm myself down by chanting “shadowban” over and over. This happens to me on the daily.
It’s no exaggeration to say that doujinshi, with the effort, time, and even money you put in, is like your own child.
And when you see your work not getting any attention, you feel this strange, inexplicable pain not unlike watching one of your parents standing in line at the cashier with their basket in their hand as everyone else passes them in the queue.
In other words, what you experienced three times is what normal people would call “trauma,” and it’s not something one would normally endure three times.
First and foremost, have confidence in your abnormal mental toughness. Please. Seriously, right now I’m experiencing a sort of confused shock, like someone who was shot three times right in front of me just consulted me to ask, “Do you think I should call an ambulance right now? I’m not sure I have the confidence to say that I deserve it.”
I think many of my readers will agree with me when I say that I think that you’re probably mentally stronger than me by approximately a thousand miles.
Here, you take over. I’m tired, so I’m gonna go home and sleep.
However, I suspect that despite your superhuman mental strength, you’re feeling kind of woozy after taking three to the chest like that. Maybe you’re feeling a little under the weather, like the tiredness at the start of a tough cold? I’ll leave a bit of cold medicine here for you, just to get you through the day.
Are feedback and interactions really necessary?
Ultimately, the most effective medicine for creators is some good, hearty feedback, but feedback and interaction are not a must for creators to create. As long as you have something you want to draw and the motivation to do so, you can keep going even if you’re on your own.
However, creating and producing are fundamentally exhausting, so staying motivated, which is key, is really hard. Therefore, many creators try to regain motivation by taking supplements in the form of feedback and interaction, advertising their work enthusiastically to get more of them.
If you too want to close up that hole in your chest with the band-aid called “feedback”, don’t dither around saying that you don’t want to put yourself out there. Instead, advertise your work on X (formerly Twitter) morning, noon, and night.
If it’s too hard for you to say, “Look at this! I made a high school AU! Do you like it?”, then you can simply keep reciting the facts of your work like, “I wrote a high school AU.”
But you’ve already challenged and accomplished taking part in three consecutive events without any supplements at all! It’s like you’ve climbed Mt. Fuji (12,389 ft) three times and now you’re worried about whether you’ve got enough water to climb Mt. Takao (1,965 ft).
In other words, you’re like a giant isopod: a deep-sea creature with no need for feedback and interactions with other fans to feed you. You can fuel yourself for creation through the simple act of breathing in the air of events. That is a blessing and a superpower.
In fact, it almost feels like it would be a waste for you to waste resources on advertising or outreach when you’re already someone who doesn’t really seem to need it. If you’re not even sure it will help, why not lean into the strengths you already know you have? (By which I mean, the ability to go the distance without even thinking about how much water you might need.)
The most important part of the creative process is, of course, to create, but the reactions and feedback we get are so pleasant that we often end up focusing our attention only on them, even if we only have the intention of using them as fuel for creativity. When this happens, you start to think not about what you want to draw, but about what will get the most reaction out of people. Instead of thinking about the content you want to make, you’ll be racking your brain over buzz manga structure to use when posting on X, like, “A story about so-and-so doing xx.”
From there, you’ll start swinging between joy and sorrow about the number of bookmarks and likes you get. The next step is starting to pay attention to other people’s numbers, and you just might become unnecessarily jealous of those in your niche who are growing faster than you.
It’s only natural to get burned out in this state and it often leads to the bewildering state of losing both your creative energy and your motivation to create in the process of trying to get feedback to motivate the creative process.
Since you have a strong mentality to begin with, should that happen, you’ll probably only end up with a slight fever of 37.2 degrees, but it’s better not to waste that kind of time.
If you’re able to focus on creating, then that’s what you should focus on.
Many creators want to write what they want to write freely without being conscious of others, whether that means remaining ignorant of whether other people are getting more or better reactions, avoiding comparisons, squashing jealousy before it takes root, etc.
Honestly, even I think about how much easier it would be for me if I could draw manga without the motivation of trying to make it into bookstores that don’t already carry my books or worry about reader reactions and book sales.
Sadly, because I can’t do that, I bitterly ego search ten thousand times a day, only to be blindsided by the announcement of someone else’s work getting an anime adaptation and lose even more motivation.
Being able to draw without the motivation of those things is a talent that most people do not have. I hope that you’ll have confidence in that and continue to focus on creating without being distracted by publicity and outreach.
If you want to interact with others, start with the story of how you took part in three events in a row and no one came to your table.
You’ll definitely be acknowledged as the superior being; and if this were an otome game you’d be flagged as the funny girl.
I can’t speak to your talent as a creator at the moment, but I can 100% vouch that you are an interesting person worth interacting with, so please have confidence in yourself.