Yesterday, I was on a panel discussion about blogs and the internet for playwrights at the Dramatists Guild Conference. It was a really great informal discussion led by Robert Ross Parker, and the panel included myself, Tim Bauer, and Roland Tec.
The audience was rather lovely, but there was a comment from an older gentleman sitting somewhere near the back that I wish I had responded more fully to -- even after Todd London's inspiring call to action keynote and Stephen Schwartz's great discussion on musicals.
This gentleman had said that he heard it was better to comment on other people's blogs to get your name out there than to start your own. I responded in the room that I really value authenticity. If you're simply blogging or commenting to get your name out there, it shows and it really drives me batty.
What I contemplated saying in the moment and then left out, lamely repeating that I value authenticity, is that there are studies about the generational divide on branding. (Steppenwolf's Tipping the Culture is one of them.) Boomers and Silents have a much bigger need to control the image and message, while Gen Xers and Millenials have a bigger need for interaction and authenticity.
If you're blogging to sell yourself or your script, it shows. If you're blogging because you're excited about an idea, it also shows. And the former will alienate a younger audience.
But the later has really opened doors for me. My post on the House Theatre of Chicago in April changed my relationship with both the House Theatre and with the Adrienne Arsht Center in meaningful and significant ways -- and all I wanted to do was to publicly state that I love what this theatre does and I want to make sure this kind of theatre happens in my own backyard.
Even at this conference, authenticity has been a strong pull for me. I'm going to see Stephen Schwartz's workshop on creating musical theatre today because his discussion was so lovely yesterday. He was so honest and funny that I'm going to a session on something that isn't as professionally advantageous because I want more of that experience.
I think the most amazing things can happen when you are excited about something. Truly, inwardly excited. Isn't that why we create art to begin with? Because we're excited about an idea. And from there all sorts of possibilities can arise.