Creatives Are a Needy Bunch

Writers are a needy bunch, for sure. Tell me if you know this story. Flight.

You put together some interesting piece about something that matters to you, you post it up, and then you start to promote it. You must promote it, because you need people to see it. You need feedback. It’s not good enough to have written. It has to have been seen.

We do this with our photos. We do this with a lot of what we create. It could be your favorite short bread cookies. It could be your scrapbooking project.

But creatives, of which I am one, have this need not simply to create, but to share. And honestly, we don’t need to share. We need the feedback. We need to hear someone tell us that what we’ve said is smart, or that what we’ve baked is delicious, or that the photo we took of the dolphins was magical and profound.

This isn’t bad. It just is. Do you feel it?

It’s Important to Know This About Ourselves

Once we know this, we can choose how we feed it or not. We can choose to relax when someone doesn’t comment right away. We can opt to find our own self-delivered praise instead of waiting around for others to say the words we want to hear. But we have to know it about ourselves, first.

If you’re a creative, by default, you’re a bit needy. But accept it, and learn how to feed yourself in other ways, and you’ll find that you can manage those feelings a little better. Ignore these facts and you’ll be frustrated more often, upset that someone hasn’t yet come and realized the masterwork you’ve created, annoyed that someone else hasn’t tapped you on the shoulder to point out to others your genius.

It’ll be a lot more fun once you realize you can pat yourself on the back just as easily, that you don’t need other people’s words to feel good about what you do and make. But in the mean time, just know that we know. We, the other creatives, the needy types. We feel you. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Warren Whitlock

    I needed this

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    • Elizabeth Sebastian

      Me too. I also need a button to “flag” the comment below yours. I got myself a Matchbox car just from ordering a Happy Meal. Not sure if it was an Alfa.

  • Jeff Korhan

    Well, of course I had to comment to acknowledge the truth in this. I got a laugh out of the title – and then the content – because we both know how true this is (along with a gazillion others who may or may not admit it) :)

  • Bobbi Klein

    I fully agree with this! I am definitely a needy creative. I have found that concentrating on giving back to the community and creating marketing events allows me to see the praise without others having to tell me. Thanks for writing this Chris!

  • Brian

    Title of this post is the understatement of the year, as my gf will confirm. Thx and happy new year, Chris -

  • Tania Dakka

    Well! Off to write another “Note to Self” to post on my laptop! LOL The permission we need comes from within us…I get it, but I don’t. LOL Thank you for sharing this and for giving me permission to enjoy what I do just because I do it, not because someone else does.

  • Eric Clark

    Feedback = assessment, a crucial element of growth. Self assessment may be the most difficult! Keep this stuff coming, be brave!

  • Ryan Biddulph

    Self acceptance frees you. Love this Chris!

    I feel the tendency to check my comments or social responses, fishing for high energy replies, praise, etc. But I find creating more persistently helps me detach for outcomes, and to feel at peace with the creation itself, and not to need feedback.


  • Tania Shipman

    “And honestly, we don’t need to share. We need the feedback” I love that quote. Being able to accept I have a need means I can handle it better. Thanks

  • Educated Savage

    I’ve been struggling to figure out the why behind this for the last few months. This need to share what I create just seems absurd, but I’m getting better at validating myself. Thank y ou for the confirmation.

  • John Davy

    yep seems familiar. Getting your message out is one thing.. Knowing you have got it out there is another

  • Bill DeMarco

    Perfect….and yes, it resonates. Thanks Chris

  • Amie Colonna Gillingham

    This is spot-on-the-money, Chris. And I heart you for saying it. I promise it will be petted regularly and shared copiously. Happy New Year!

  • Stan Bush

    Yes! And the picture is perfect! It gives the feeling of ‘flying’ :-)

  • Mary McD

    First, let me mention that the pic of the dolphins is both magical AND profound… :-)

    I find this to be true about my work product also – I create a course, and NEED someone to tell me that it’s the best take on/the best description of/the most interesting retelling of/the most intriguing twist on/ the subject they’ve ever experienced! And if/when they don’t, I tweak the course ad nauseum… the good news is that the tweaks are probably improvements; the bad news is that I’ve spent WAY too much time on it, in most cases!

  • Mary E. Ulrich

    I guess there are some people who write in private journals and tuck them away as they reflect on … who knows what. But I agree most creative types need to know someone is seeing their work. I imagine that is why there are so many blogs/books about increasing readers.

    What makes you different Chris, is that you don’t just want more readers–you want to share, teach and build a community of thought leaders who wonder about your ideas. That is a whole lot more than just being seen.

  • Keith Bates

    I’m a Creative Strategist, have been for 42 years. The following paragraph is an excerpt from a two page overview on Creativity I drafted 10 years ago. The whole doc is available for the asking.

    The challenge for creativity is to overpower, or alter, the belief cluster (sometimes referred to as the bullshit factor). The real targetof our efforts is not defined demographically (statistics), or psychographically (lifestyles) or even syncrographically (timing)…the targetis the brain…and the challenge is to change attitudes, which in turn changebehavior. Attitude changes occur through changes in brain chemistry … so think of yourselves as chemists… working on penetration and retention. And because pictures are far superior to words when it comes to altering the brain chemistry required of both penetration and retention… if you’re contemplating a boring visual, or an all copy message you’re in trouble.

  • Deborah Lynn

    truth truth truth

  • Aberrant Crochet

    As a fiber designer as well as a writer, I completely get this. I have to catch myself too, otherwise I am tempted to waste time I don’t need to, looking for responses, etc.. All I need is one compliment and bam – I’m thinking, “Oh that was nice. Maybe it won’t hurt to spend a little more time online looking around or chatting. Maybe I’ll check one more time….” Which is fine in small doses and fine for marketing research or the charities I run, but not so fine when it takes time away from designing or actually getting results (or even getting daily chores done – who needs dishes anyway). Fact is, it’s all about confidence. Either I believe in what I write, or I don’t. Either I believe in my designs and charity work, or I don’t. THAT’S creativity. Not surfing for my ego. Even with what I share, either I believe it’s worthwhile, or I don’t. I don’t really need validation over sharing a cool link. And I don’t need to be camped on my computer every 15 minutes to respond to a fan. No one expects that.

  • Jeff Kear

    Good food for thought, Chris. I’m a writer and entrepreneur myself, and would add to what you’re saying and posit this … there are really two types of gratification for creatives:

    1. Inherent satisfaction in the mere act of creating.
    2. Outside feedback and affirmation from an audience.

    I have two kinds of creative activities. Those that I do for business (product development, blogging, social outreach, etc.) and those that I do in my leisure time (mainly creative writing). For the former, I really do need feedback and input (and eventually customers) for the business to move in the right direction. For the latter, I tend not to care much at all about feedback, mainly because I would write whether I did it for an audience or not.

    Here’s the kicker … I’ve worked in advertising/marketing for a couple decades now, and I’ve learned not to take any kind of feedback personally. Once I have birthed an idea and ushered it out into the world, it is essentially a thing of its own with a life of its own, and I was merely the midwife (and I’m perfectly comfortable in my masculinity to say that). From this point, I’m an interested observer to see how people react to and interact with the creative product.

    Letting go of your creation is the best thing you can to to maintain your sanity.

    Thanks for the post, and keep it up.

    • Brian M. Hays

      I have found success separating myself from the work for both praise and criticism What I find interesting is that non-creatives often don’t realize this separation and it can cause them to be too considerate with their criticism.

  • Paul Jarvis

    Social media frameworks are setup to instantly satisfy our need to be liked and share. With “likes”, “favourites”, RTs and similar… the systems we use to put our work “out there” come with the satisfaction of instant gratification. It’s tough not to use those as a metric to measure the worth of what you create…

    • Chris Brogan

      Agreed, Paul. We want that juice, don’t we?

      • Elizabeth Sebastian

        Hi Mr. Brogan. What advice do you have for young people on the Internet who are made to feel even more “needy” and are subject to cyber bullying? This is one of the things that’s made me afraid to go public with what I create online. As I wrote above I am only 16, and it’s especially difficult for girls/young women who still are judged largely by appearance. The “mean girls” of the movie of same name would seem more comparable to U.N. peacekeepers if you ever met some of the catty commenters online.

  • Tara Jacobsen

    That is funny Chris, writers ARE needy..:) when I get hung up I tend to read other great writers and also to do some crafty things to get my creative juices flowing again!

  • Melissa Ng

    Wonderfully said. Overall, it’s important to create and do the work for the love of the process, not the praise. This one’s getting save in my Evernote! :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks! : )

  • dianebrogan

    Excellent post. I know someone I can give it to. Your dolphin picture is perfect. None of mine came out nearly as good.

    • Chris Brogan

      I’ll share mine. : ) And that’s weird. I know that person, too! : )

  • Ryan Ridgway

    Wow, well said! The need for feedback and recognition is often times the #1 catalyst for us to “create” in the first place, whether we openly think about this or not! “We, the other creatives, the needy types. We feel you.” – glad to know we’re all on the same page. Stay blessed – Ryan

  • igobydoc

    Well said, could not agree more Chris!

    I know I am needy… I know I like feedback (preferably good feedback) bu I can take constructive criticism too.

    Knowing that I am needy has also impairment me to just create content in the first place. Call it analysis paralysis, or fear of no one liking it, the impairment is almost like a fear.

    I just need to stop giving a shit, and be myself. Love me, like me, or hate me… I am me.

    Thanks for he “pep-post”


  • Roberto Gomez

    The thought itself sometimes sounds strong with in the others and sometimes not, the important here is, not close to feedback, when you have, but not stop saying things like feel as we think, feedback and comments are just a extra profit.

  • Kenny Rose

    Creatives are selfish and givers at the same time. The contradiction is always there with you wherever you go, nagging, got to deliver something that matters, not for the ego alone but something that matters and changes something, someone, makes a difference. Chris you wrote the unwritten truth. You know we “need” to hear it. The validation of the struggle will make us better creatives and people. And guide is on the journey. “To just doing the work” :-)


  • Aynjele

    Thanks. I suspect there are a lot of us creatives simply posting on line.

  • Otir

    Indeed, creatives are needy people, and “needy” in that case should not sound as negative, because it is thanks to that personality trait that they can give so much to others, like you do always, with their passion, their genuine sense of sharing for the best.

    Deep inside they know that their sharing is not depriving them, but rewarding in return, even if their high level of anxiety, of anticipation is what also causes the “juice” you are talking about.

    I am not sure I will ever stop needing to hear other people words to know that what I do or make is good enough. It is sometimes very difficult to dispell the fears and the messages that have left negative inprints in the self-confidence. I am not sure I want to stop needing the others’ feedback to feed my creativity: after all, some creations are basically social, and I have to admit it.

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  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Happy New Year! I thought I might
    as well get a head start on articulating my new year’s resolutions for 2013 and
    one of it was to be self-sufficient and self-indulgent, need to pat myself for
    what good I do and not wait for the comments or replies. Also not to get upset
    if others have not appreciated the masterwork. Thanks Chris I am moving in the
    right direction.

  • Sonia Quinones

    Thanks Chris for this post!

    It dovetails nicely with an idea Tara Mohr mentions in her Playing Big course, about people needing to “unhook from praise.” Her premise is that getting praised, particularly for something you love doing, can paradoxically shut you down instead of inspiring you to greater work.

    Unhooking from praise is a great idea, but one I couldn’t quite figure out how to put into practice until I read your post. Thank you!

  • Trilby Jeeves

    Merci Chris… hits the nail on the head. Now… how do we truly let go and find our own honest praise? Creating surely is a lot about process. If we are only aiming for the end result, that may be our mistake. Thanks for this reminder.

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  • Brian M. Hays

    Excellent post. I couldn’t agree more. Feedback is an important part of being creative. And, often to our detriment, it is downplayed. We should approach this “need” honestly.

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  • Elizabeth Sebastian

    Hi Mr. Brogan, great article. I am 16 years old and just started blogging myself only a couple weeks ago (on January 1, to be exact). I’m not only a “needy” creative but a lonely one. You’ll find this is more and more common in the high school demographic especially these days, when it seems all the “cool” kids have 20M+ views on their YouTube videos and tons of comments and shares all over their various social network pages.

    But they already have friends offline, and the propensity to be outgoing and make them online too. I don’t have either of those, and I don’t even have any social media involvement other than my Blogspot. (I do have a G+ account by default, because I had to sign up for a Gmail account to start on Blogger, but I don’t use it, and I don’t have FB/Twitter either.)

    One of the things I think I need to do is to spend at least some time on social network sites that are popular with the younger demographic (with short-form messages), and maybe even to shift my style of blogging to the visually-oriented one like Tumblr and Pinterest rather than a more flexible wordy one like a traditional “blog.” I can still keep my blog, but expand my focus beyond just written articles to infographics, captions and other visual material. My first love is writing, but I also have a knack (and a love) of graphics and visual content too. That way I don’t lose out entirely with the generation that gave us Sesame Street brought to you by the letters TLDR. ;-)

    Thanks, Mr. B for your advice and your terrific blog. :-)

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  • San Diego Web Designer

    Nice article, That’s all I can say. I’m also a writer. And I know how you feel. Is this based from experience?

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