“Even a cat appreciates kind words.” – Russian proverb
Recently I had the singular pleasure of receiving a note from someone I’d briefly conversed with years ago in another internet life. The note began “Are you the Darusha Wehm who…”
This always makes me smile, as if there are a zillion Darusha Wehms out there (there aren’t), though I understand that people want to make sure they have the right person for these things.
Anyhow, the note was to thank me for some kind words I’d sent to this person, probably five years ago. At that time, I’d read something this person wrote, loved it, and said so. That was all. That simple act of telling someone that I liked their work was enough to resonate in their mind all this time and encourage them to continue.
I often forget about the totally disproportionate effect that encouragement can have, especially to creative endeavours. It can be a lonely existence, making new things. The self-doubt is always there, at least it is for me. every time I start something, there’s this evil little voice in my head that says, “This is stupid and you’re stupid for doing it.” But, thankfully, I also have all the other voices of encouragement I’ve heard over the years and they drown that fucker out.
It takes so little effort to tell someone you like what they do but it has such a powerful impact. When that nasty little voice is taking a deep breath and getting ready to do its thing, those thirty seconds to send a tweet or an email or leave a comment saying “hey, I think your thing is really great,” can make the difference between listening to the voice and giving up or telling it to shut it and getting back to work.
And don’t forget the self-serving angle: when you encourage people to keep making things you like, they make more things for you to like. It’s a win-win!