I keep a stash of images to post on Instagram.

Sometimes, I get low on supply and say, f- it. I’ll use this dumb picture I keep passing over because it’s meh. To me, it’s the peanuts and filberts at the bottom of the nut mix when all the cashews are gone. It’s the unflattering, laundry-day pants. It’s last-resort sh*t for desperate times.

I don’t think anyone will like it or care, but I’d rather share something than nothing.

And then, 9 times out of 10, that’s the one that gets the most likes and comments.

And that other post — the one I fussed over and dabbed endlessly with my mental artist’s brush, thinking, “this one’s the WINNER” — that one gets no more than a polite golf clap.

Not that comments and likes are everything. But they’re a pretty good measure of what people respond to. And if your work is about evoking a reaction, that matters.

In this one sense, maybe artistic integrity is a myth.

You can say, “I don’t want to put this out there, it’s not good enough.”

But do you really know? What if you’re depriving someone who’d love it?

Just like you can’t sort through an un-popped bag of microwave popcorn and pick out the loser kernels before you nuke them…

…Maybe it’s not up to you to decide whether your idea is bomb-diggity or suck-adelic.

Maybe it’s up to us. If you choose for us, we won’t get to see the stuff that might turn out to be our favorite.

Here’s my optimistic artist’s rule of thumb:

If you think your idea is solid gold, even if no one agrees with you, you’re still right.

If you think it blows, that’s no reason to keep it to yourself. Because to someone else, you might be wrong.

Pop it all, see what happens. That’s the only way to know.

ps – I was just in a resort where everything on every menu, from pancakes to fish tacos, tasted like fake Orville Redenbacher butter flavor. Or like a popcorn Jelly Belly. So I’ve got popcorn on the brain.

Now you.

Do you hoard and hide ideas you think won’t work? Ever find that people like your dumbest stuff the most?


Originally published at talkingshrimp.com