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Artists, Share Your Secrets

Two interesting things happened to me yesterday.

Mary DeMuthFirst of all, I had the privilege of meeting author Mary DeMuth. We're both members of the Lausanne Blogging Network – a global conversation about the church and missions – and I suggested we connect on the phone.

After hearing about how she got started as a writer, she said something in particular that really struck me as significant.

She told me that when a friend got published, she refused to share any secrets to getting a book deal. Mary hadn't written anything that had been published at the time, but she decided that if she ever were to be published that she wouldn't withhold any "secrets" from those needing help.

We ended the 30-minute call, and that was it. We agreed to stay in touch and help one another. A nice, mid-day conversation, but it seemed rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. However, one idea kept resonating with me:

Share your secrets.

Later in the evening, I connected with a friend of a friend on the phone. She is an aspiring writer, and I told her via email that I'd answer any questions she had. On the phone, I found myself divulging everything I knew about writing, blogging, and publishing your content.

At one point, I thought, "What the heck am I doing? I'm sharing with her every secret I've learned in the past four years!" Then I remembered that phrase:

Share your secrets.

I'm no big-time author or anything, but I have had to work to establish some relationships that have been key in getting some of my work published. When you work that hard at anything, you want to be recognized. It's only natural to expect others to do the same to get to the same place.

There's only one problem with that: It's predicated on a false worldview. Art isn't some race to the top, where there is only one position of "best artist" awaiting you. It's a community of creativity and generosity, a network from which we all can benefit. Yet, for some reason, many who have worked so hard to get established as professionals become proud and do as Mary's friend did – refusing to help anyone.

That doesn't make sense to me – not these days. As I told Sara (the aspiring writer): "We're all in this, I hope, for the same reasons – to be poor together and share our gifts with the world."

The global marketplace is changing. There are no secrets anymore. In order to maintain a competitive edge, some creative professionals are sharing everything they know. They're providing the help they never received so that the community as a whole can benefit from what is shared.

This isn't about making money (although, I hope you make some). It's not about being the top dog, either. It's about being generous – creating something beautiful and then giving it away. That's art, something we all ought to be doing.

Giving gifts
is the new marketing, as Seth Godin says. So while you shouldn't expect repayment, you will, in due time, receive a gift of your own. And it is the new economy, as Chris Anderson says, so you either join in now or get left behind.

Artists, please, let's stop selfishly hoarding what we know, and share our secrets.

How can you do that today?