That’s a powerful-and powerfully counterintuitive-way to think about your work. And the reason more people don’t think in this manner is because they are afraid. They’re afraid of carving their own path and finding nothing at the end of it. They’re overly concerned with the vanity and status consciousness of fans who are comfortable in the traditional system. They want the validation that comes (supposedly) from being given a deal or signed to a contract by an established institution – whether that’s a publisher, a studio, an agency, a gallery, or a Fortune 100. Many of us are afraid, to borrow James Altucher’s phrase, “to choose ourselves.”
The great Stoic Marcus Aurelius once admonished himself to be a “boxer, not a fencer.” A fencer, he said, has to bend down to pick up his weapon. A boxer’s weapon is a part of him – “all he has to do is clench his fist.” In developing a platform, we eschew the promotional apparatus that must be rebuilt and picked up anew with each and every launch. Instead, we choose to bind ourselves to an audience, to become one with that audience, and to become one with our weapon.
– from “Perennial Seller” by Ryan Holiday