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    • I’ve been sick at home for the last five days, and during those five days, I’ve actually managed to force myself to sit down and work on fashion pattern making for myself - making basic blocks (bodice/skirt/pants) that can be adapted into endless styles while maintaining fit to my current measurements. This is something I’ve been putting off for months due to my frustration with my current weight, but that’s besides the point.

      After completing the basic blocks on Sunday, I began reverse engineering the pattern for a pair of Japanese pleated pants that I’d borrowed from a friend, because I have an upcoming project where I want to do something similar, but an original design. It is now Wednesday, and I’m to the point where I only have a few steps left to completing the pants, but I woke up this morning feeling an acute sense of despair that I haven’t “accomplished anything” in the last week.


      Because I didn’t have some new, shiny imagery to post on social media.  To get those validating likes that I’m admittedly addicted to - those tiny shots of endorphins that come with the evidence of someone noticing me.

      Maybe it’s because I come from a photography background, where creating images has become an near instantaneous process in comparison to what it used to be. All it takes is a click and share on the phone, and you’ve created content for social media. The algorithms on most platforms seem to demand at least a daily upload, and you’re punished if you don’t follow it, whether by exposure to your audience, or that audience leaving. There's a reason so many contemporary creators based in social media have experienced burn out. I’ve only posted 32 landscape images to my main Instagram account since May, and I’ve managed to lose 134 followers in that same amount of time. Maybe it’s because the platform has been purging bot accounts, but maybe it’s because I haven’t been posting every single day, as I’ve been told by ‘experts’ that I need to do in order to grow my follower count. I’ve never managed to acquire that elusive “k” as in “10k+” number, and that’s something that still bothers me.

      It’s not hard to feel like I’m accomplishing nothing when my social feeds are inundating me with the spectacular projects of the people I follow, from photography, to illustrations, to fashion design, videos, and more. This feeling is amplified by the fact that I’m learning a new craft, so I’m not even working on creating a haute couture masterpiece of a gown - I’m just trying to make a simple pair of pants. I’ve spent the last two years in school starting from the most basic of sewing, and I still feel like a hopeless beginner. Project Runway shows me designers spitting out incredible gowns in 12 hours - why is it taking me three days to get these stupid pants done?

      Logically, I know it’s all about perspective. Renaissance masterpieces weren’t created in three days. Sometimes, they took years. Creative role-models of mine, like @vonwong, spend months planning and executing epic visions with teams of people helping them.  A designer takes months to create a collection from start to runway show, and even after that the work continues if they take it to manufacturing. When I listen to fashion business podcasts, the established brands talk about how they took a year or two getting everything together before launching the company. Things of real quality take time, even if it’s the unseen years of training that gets someone to the point where they can create something fantastic in no time at all. I’ve always been a believer in quality over quantity, but social media has definitely become an emotional trap for me. I know it’s wrong, and I should not focus on what others are doing - comparison is the thief of joy, after all. Still, I have anxiety-brain working against me, but at least I can recognize that.

      So, creators, how do you feel productive/accomplished? Have you escaped the claws of daily content pressure? Have you balanced it?

    • I feel you pain and can relate to it totally, I am for ever self doubting my abilities and comparing .
      Hence my dislike for Instagram, it put me in a deep hole of depression.
      It is what it is ,you are what you are, trying to be anything other than that just adds pressure to the mind.
      Turn off things that are doing your head in , those that care will love what you do and who you are regardless of any flaws that you think you have, which they may not have never even noticed.
      Medication helps me balance what ever social media or life in general throws at me.😀

    • Dallas, have you seen David Letterman's interview with Tina Fey on Netflix? Toni and I were riveted because we're fans of hers but there were times when I thought, who knew that someone like Tina Fey could have such anxiety? We see how talented she is and what a great career she's had; you'd think it's more than she could ever have dreamed of. And yet her poor husband, she said, comes home to her sobbing in the shower.

      The most telling part to us was when she spoke about her recent segment on SNL, where she ate sheet cake. She's legendary on SNL and the clip of it has 8 million views on YouTube. We thought it was genius.

      And yet she couldn't read any social media comments about it. In general, she can't even go on social media because she says there may be 100 positive comments but it's the one harsh one she remembers. She is tortured by the sheet cake skit because she said she messed up the end and it's something she may never get over.

      I know it's easy for me to say, but for me and many people I know, the view from here is damn, I wish I had the talent of Dallas and could be like her.

    • So, creators, how do you feel productive/accomplished? Have you escaped the claws of daily content pressure? Have you balanced it?

      I understand the pressure many people are under to constantly create, mostly social media influencers. YouTubers need to constantly upload videos, Instagrammers need to constantly upload photos, Tweeters need to constantly tweet, otherwise they'll all be forgotten. This is an unhealthy mentality. Unfortunately, this is the environment our social media age has created. This is also why we always see influencers taking a break from social media. The pressure to constantly create just gets to them, and they need to take a step back.

      I don't really consider myself a "creator" but I do like to "create", if that makes sense. Over on Twitter, I'm currently on day 268 of my "Photo of the Day" project. The reason I'm bringing this up is because on many of my posts, I receive zero interactions. No likes, no retweets, no comments, but I still continue with my project regardless. Reason being, I'm doing it for myself, not anybody else.

      Hitting that "Publish" button (or "Post", or "Tweet", or whatever the social network you use says) to post your work, which might have taken you a few days, weeks, or even months to complete, should be the trigger which gives you the satisfaction you deserve. Sometimes I take a few sessions to finish writing a post here on Cake (or on Google+ previously), and when I publish it, I feel a sense of accomplishment that no amount of "likes" can give me. Maybe easier said than done, but when you start having a "for me" mentality instead of a "for my followers" mentality, you might find yourself feeling more accomplished with your creations.

    • I just went through this myself actually.

      On paper, I've done one project this year which was (in my books) a failure that generated zero revenue. Online, people look at me and see me moving, creating, succeeding non stop.

      After a couple weeks of exploration, I came to the realization that I was probably using the wrong metrics to judge productivity and recently started posting daily (or bi-daily) photo updates of the people I've been meeting and the things I've been doing.

      I'm planting seeds, fostering relationships and helping others - Things that pay off (potentially) in a couple years from now and the exercise of sharing images of my life has helped me be more grateful and less harsh on myself :)

    • i used to be in the same mindset and then something happened last year that made me snap out of wife was diagnosed with cancer

      to say i quit at that time posting to my social media would not be true as i still did, but i no longer felt the need to post just because i was supposed to as i had in the past. the entire situation made me re-evaluate the time i spent on social media in general and what was truly important in my life and keeping up with algorithms fell to the bottom of the list

      after i resisted from posting every single day, i felt so much better as it really made me see the somewhat shallowness in doing it and made me appreciate what i had around me–in my real life–that much more

    • I'm sure that's the one! That version is blocked here in the states.

      What tortured her about it is some people interpreted her call to action to be just eat cake, no need for more. There were several negative stories about that. She apologized on the Letterman interview and said she'd give anything to be able to edit the ending because that's not what she meant to imply.

      It was incredibly funny tho!

    • I can totally understand that. If I had a separate job/source of income/identity outside of social media, I think it'd be easier for me, but all of my career accomplishments have been thanks to or based on social media, at least in the local Hawaii bubble, so not posting led to me not really being hired anymore.

    • Reading books/interviews by anxiety-afflicted celebrities like Tina Fey or Felicia Day has been really helpful for me overall, because I definitely see them as public figure role models. However, I'm actually less concerned with people's reactions to my work - maybe that's because I've been fortunate to not get too much hate on the internet. I usually only get either positive feedback or no notice whatsoever. My anxiety about online content is more focused on actually getting things done to put out there, because I've never had a steady job/income in my entire life - starving artist is all I know!

    • i can totally see that aspect of it. i am a freelance artist–but thankfully–i have a full-time client that i am under pretty much a lifelong contract with and believe me if that wasn't the case i would be hustling here on the socials on a regular basis much more than i do trying to get my name out there to potential clients

    • Dallas, do you think there is a confidence gap with women and does it have anything to do with not getting paying gigs?

      The reason I bring it up is I'm a fan of the site Women Photograph and the women who run it. I have used it to search for photojournalists to commission. We're told that only 15% of photojournalists are women and yet some of the best photojournalists in history were women like Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke White, and Carol Guzy, whom I have spoken to. She is the only journalist in history to win 4 Pulitzer Prizes. I respect her more than any other photographer.

      Anyway, the women who run it sometimes say in interviews that the confidence gap is a factor:

      Photojournalism is a competitive business, Ms. Keyssar said, and among the many causes she cited for gender disparity in the industry is “a confidence gap” between young women and men. “I don’t think we do enough to teach young girls to stand up straight and say ‘I deserve this job, and I’m the best person for the job,’” she said. At portfolio reviews, she often tells younger women to not apologize for their work because the young man before her didn’t.

      I must include a Carol Guzy photo because oh my God.

    • I enjoyed reading your post. It's definitely a growing problem in the current era of social media. Do you have a blog? This entry is sure worthy of a blog and should be available for other people to read and think about. That happens on obviously but throw it up somewhere else too.

    • I understand the pressure many people are under to constantly create, mostly social media influencers. YouTubers need to constantly upload videos, Instagrammers need to constantly upload photos, Tweeters need to constantly tweet, otherwise they'll all be forgotten. This is an unhealthy mentality. Unfortunately, this is the environment our social media age has created. This is also why we always see influencers taking a break from social media. The pressure to constantly create just gets to them, and they need to take a step back.

      Jazli, do you think it's possible that algorithms drive some of this? It feels to me that in the real world you don't have to write a constant stream of books to build a large audience, just a few good ones. Same with movies and speeches. Swim great once every 4 years and you can become Michael Phelps.

      But online where algorithms decide what your audience gets to see, I wonder if it's more profitable for Facebook and YouTube to reward frequency among their regulars. It keeps you creating more content and them more ad impressions, I presume.

    • From a platform's perspective, it may not really matter if their creators post fewer high quality videos or more low quality videos, as long as the views come in. Internet celebrities with millions of followers can have one post with millions of views, so in this case the platform may choose to prioritise these creators. Whereas smaller creators may need dozens of posts to reach the same number of views, so in this case platforms may show content from active creators for a more consistent influx of views, as opposed to creators who for example, only post once a week.

      I think creators feel pressure to create constantly out of fear of being drowned in all the noise. Algorithms probably do play a big role in this. Say on YouTube, if a user is searching for gameplay of a particular game, they key in a search query. YouTube lists a bunch of videos which match the query, but which videos are posted at the top and which are not even on the front page? It's possible that "quality" plays a role here, but how exactly do you measure quality of a YouTube video? Likes? Views? Those are objective numbers, but won't necessarily reflect the true quality of a video. A video with fewer views could have much better production quality, but because the channel has a low number of followers, it won't get many views, which means it won't get many likes, which means it may not be shown in search results. Alternatively, creators who already have large followings only need to put in minimal effort and their videos will already get loads of views from all their subscribers. Ultimately, I think content creators create content on a daily basis because having more posts/videos/content increases your chances of being discovered by new users. Algorithms or not, the chances of being discovered by new users probably increases with more content, which is why creators feel that pressure.

    • Wow, this is interesting. I come at this from the completely other end, as a fiction writer. Maybe it's a similar feeling, but in slow motion?

      I often joke (but with the hollow laugh of total conviction) that I had a promising little career going once. My first published story was in my dream magazine, Asimov's, and I got a Nebula nomination fairly early on. I had some other stories in the big print markets...and then from the perspective of sci-fi market watching, I disappeared. What happened to me?

      Well, I've been trying to write novels! In the current fiction-world, there is no earthly way of making a living writing short stories. (Dallas probably knows alllll this context better than I do, but it's worth unpacking for general comprehension!) Making a living from writing novels? You still need a lot of luck and hard work, and it may in fact be a little unearthly...but it's possible to eke out something like a living wage. Not to mention, there's a lot of real legitimacy that's reserved for novelists in the minds of readers and fans. And most importantly, I have novels I wanted to write! I always have wanted to write novels, even before I settled on being a writer as my main vocation. So long work is the only way I'm going to have a reasonable writing career longterm -- but in the short term, it has completely killed my short story production, and (I suspect) any buzz I was building around my name.

      Short stories are also slow-motion compared to posting photography, or the quick feedback of twitter (I do tweet, but my stories are much better) -- many months pass between selling a story and seeing it in a print magazine. But a novel is even worse: I'm alone with this lumpen work in progress most of the time, unless I inflict it chapter by chapter on some lovely volunteer (Thank you, @yaypie!) And the kind of feedback even nice rejections from agents provide, on my one finished novel manuscript, isn't exactly what an artist's heart craves. A writer wants to be read for enjoyment, not for marketability or personality-match. If it takes me a year to finish and polish the current manuscript, then even if I were to find an agent and then a publisher in an impossibly short time, it could be another two years before I get it into the hands of readers. That's a long time.

      I know stories would help my career seem less moribund, and make me feel HEARD in the world, but how do I split my attention? Especially right now, when I'm proving to myself that I can write a novel in an organized, timely fashion (my first novel process was sort of like the T-1000 flailing in the steel, but in reverse) so I'm pretty strict about my creative time and attention.

      Obviously, I've got more questions than answers, but how to stay fed (heart and body both!) as an artist and how to maintain both productivity and visibility are huge topics. Luck and courage to you while you try to navigate them, Dallas!

    • Hello Felicity! ......Tell me about how e-publishing relates to novelists and writers today? Is it possible for a writer to profitably e-publish? I am guessing part of a book publisher's job is to promote. Can a writer successfully promote an e-book? I believe has some sort of e-publishing service. Can a writer make a successful career by self-publishing on Amazon or some other e-publisher site?

      I know very little about publishing. I sometime see photographers produce free e-books to gather email addresses for their promotional mailing lists. Some even sell e-books on various topics. I do not know if this is just diversifying an income stream or if it can become the main income source?

      Could e-publishing be your future way to get your works into the hands of the reader sooner rather than later with a traditional book publisher? Thanks!

    • Real briefly, since it's a tangent on Dallas's conversation: self-publishing is possible, but mainly profitable in certain niches where readers have eagerly adopted e-readers and read ravenously (romance, for example, and I think specialized mystery subgenres?)

      Basically, when you self-publish, you're taking all the parts of publishing a book upon yourself -- editing, layout, graphic design, distribution, and marketing. Even if you hire contractors for some of that work, self-publishing requires a real entrepeneurial spirit which I don't have. I have published some of my previously published short fiction for free on my website, which is a great way of getting words in front of readers, which is the thing one craves :) I should definitely do more of that!

    • But online where algorithms decide what your audience gets to see, I wonder if it's more profitable for Facebook and YouTube to reward frequency among their regulars. It keeps you creating more content and them more ad impressions, I presume.

      On Twitter, you want to stand out in your follower’s Home timeline. For that reason, a memorable avatar is more important than your profile details:

      I still use this ridiculous avatar on all my platforms because five years ago I figured out how to get a blog post to go viral on Reddit and got 10,000 visits to my website in one day.

      If you tweet at least daily, your brand becomes more noticeable to your followers each time you push out content. So it’s also the never ending firehose of Twitter’s Home timeline that drives the need to constantly hit publish.

    • So, creators, how do you feel productive/accomplished? Have you escaped the claws of daily content pressure? Have you balanced it?

      Dallas, I quit my corporate job for a year to be a screenwriter. Wrote the screenplay, went back to corporate life. Switched careers, wrote a book that went nowhere. Wrote over 150 blog posts for my website, it was ultimately unprofitable.

      A couple years ago, I took a lower level corporate job that allows me to work 35 hours a week and still get full benefits. I am incredibly fortunate in that I can spend a decent amount of time each day writing, without having to rely on my passion to pay the bills. I may even splurge on taking a comedy writing masterclass with Judd Apatow.

      Currently, my focus is on improving my craft, which Cake has been a nice outlet for, and I try to keep a lot of projects in the works of varying time lengths so that I have regular accomplishments to stay motivated.