5 Pitfalls in Crowd Chasing

Popularity is overrated.


Ryan J. Pelton

1/10/20244 min read

In the world of writing and creation, there's an undeniable temptation to follow crowds. Trends come and go, and it's tempting to ride the wave of popular mediums, platforms, and hottest gurus promising millions in the bank.

However, as writers and creators, it's crucial to recognize the dangers that lurk within the shadows of the herd mentality. I fell into this trap, and it cost years of creative output. Not only did it cost years of productivity, it took a toll on my mental and physical health.

I want to save you from years of heartache, if possible.

Let’s explore the pitfalls and temptations of blindly following the crowds:

The Fragility of Success

One of the most significant dangers of succumbing to herd mentality in writing is the fragility of success. Just because a trend or platform is currently popular doesn't guarantee long-term success.

How is your My Space account doing? Did anyone expect the death of Blockbuster video, and predicting streaming-mania? Are your serialized kitten Sci-Fi books still selling?

I’m guessing, no.

Trends shift rapidly, and what captivates audiences today may become stale tomorrow. Writers who tether their creativity solely to what's trending risk losing their unique voice and vision in the pursuit of fleeting validation.

Playing it Safe

Following the crowds can lead to creative stagnation and playing it safe. When you follow the latest trends and fads, your creativity is driven by the loudest voices in the culture. Not the voice from within.

I coached a writer caught in the trap of romance novels. People were making millions off these steamy little beauties. But what happens when the writer hates what they’re writing and hates themselves?

That’s what happened to my friend. He found himself trapped in a cycle of regurgitating stories he cared nothing about. Instead of writing stories he cared about, he chased money and played it safe.

Lasting art stems from embracing one's individuality and voice and taking risks. When writers conform to popular norms, they limit their potential for work, making an impact long after we’re gone.

Creative growth requires stepping outside the noise of the crowds, and finding the unsafe waters of your own voice.

The Loss of Authenticity

This is big. Every writer possesses a unique voice and perspective and point of view that contributes to the diversity of our creative output. When people succumb to the pressures of conforming to trends, they risk losing their authenticity; they risk losing themselves.

Authenticity is the lifeblood of compelling storytelling and creation. Your voice, your angle, and your point of view make your art live. It's the raw, unfiltered expression of the writer's true self that resonates with audiences on a deeper level.

Sacrificing authenticity for the sake of popularity and crowds erodes the very essence of what makes a creator's work memorable and impactful.

A Sea of Homogeneous Ideas

Herd mentality often leads to a homogenization of ideas, where a saturation of similar content floods the market. When everyone is zigging, you zag.

This over saturation of similar ideas not only dilutes the uniqueness of individual creations, but also diminishes the overall quality of the work. We see this right now in the deluge of films, music, and books all sounding the same, and dealing with the same issues.

How many superhero or sequels to movies does a culture need? You be the judge.

A marketplace saturated with indistinguishable works makes it challenging for writers to stand out and for audiences to discover fresh perspectives.

The true beauty of the creative realm lies in its diversity, and conforming to the crowd undermines this richness.

Creative Burnout

The pressure to conform to popular trends can contribute to creative burnout. Constantly chasing after what's in vogue can be mentally and emotionally draining. I fell into this trap.

I had written multiple books and found some success. But instead of building on the success of my voice, I chased popular trends and it bit me. Nearly destroying my mental, spiritual, physical, and relational health.

The quest for external validation from the crowds can overshadow the joy of creation, transforming what was once a passion into a tiresome obligation. This burnout not only stifles personal growth but also hampers the writer's ability to connect authentically with their audience.

Instead of chasing crowds, do this:

To combat the pitfalls of following the crowd, writers must embrace their individuality. This involves cultivating a strong sense of self-awareness, honing their unique voice, and daring to explore uncharted creative territories.

Rather than chasing trends, writers should focus on telling stories that resonate with their own experiences, beliefs, values, and passions. It might involve doing the opposite of the crowds.

If dark and evil are hot, write something with light and hope. If fantasy is the genre of the moment, do something with realism. If everyone is writing about "Get Rich Quick," books, do something like, "Playing the Long Game with Money."

In the ever-evolving landscape of writing and creation, it's essential for you to resist the gravitational pull of crowds.

True fulfillment and success lie in embracing individuality, allowing one's unique voice to shine through the noise of conformity. In a world that often celebrates the bold and the unconventional, it's the writers who dare to forge their paths that leave an indelible mark on culture.

Crowds lie. Learn to listen to the voice within.

*Originally published on Medium.