The first time it’s art, the second time it’s a tactic

Here’s something nobody tells you about building your body of work. 

Everything after the first one is business. 

It’s an unfortunate reality of the creative marketplace. The purity, naiveté and idealism with which you came out of the gate is quickly replaced by more practical concerns. Like strategy, monetization and scalability. 

And not that your work is devoid of heart and soul, it’s just that after you’ve been around the merry go round once, you can’t help but view your creative projects through a more sophisticated lens. 

My first book was written and published a few months after graduating college. My life was in a fertile limbo state of innocence and independence and possibility. There was no plan, there was nothing to achieve and nobody was looking over my shoulder. 

It was just a book. About a guy who wore a nametag every day. And to my surprise and delight, it went viral. That book altered my professional vector forever. It may have been lightning in a bottle, but there was enough charge to last a lifetime. That timing wasn’t everything, it was the only thing. 

The disappointing part is, that never happened again. Even after dozens of creative projects over the next fifteen years, nothing quite had the executional force of that first at bat. Even despite my best efforts to recreate that lightning in a bottle, ultimately, my romantic fantasies were at odds with the cold facts of business life. 

Because as my cartoonist friend likes to say, the first time it’s art, the second time it’s a tactic

But there’s still hope for your body of work. Even if you do find yourself replacing your purest longings with the more sobering preoccupations of a mature life, it’s not too late. As long as you don’t stop taking the creative risks that made you successful in the first place; and as long as you find ways to reconnect to the joy that made you an artist in the first place, you never know what kind of magic you might create. 


Are you treating your business like your second child, or your first one?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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