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Iterating in Public

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a post like this from me recently:

These tweets are then followed up with ones like this:

This isn’t an attempt at public accountability for me, or another way to “share what I’m up to”.

Instead, it’s a concerted attempt to both document and educate you, my audience, on the legitimate process of my work and more specifically its failures.

I think that providing this example is going to prove to be of vast importance for those reading along to learn and put their own plans into action.

How can something so simple be so important?  Let me explain.

The Illusion of Truth

When you go work to create something, you tend to get your inspiration from someone else’s completed project.  You will say to yourself something like…

“Ooohhh that’s SO COOL!  I want to do something like that!”

Depending on your psychological predispositions – you’ll quickly jump from this thought to something like these:

  • Oh but that person is so good, I could never do that, I’m not in their league.
  • I don’t even know where to start to make something like that, this is impossible!
  • I tried really hard, and struggled, but this is harder than I thought and it’s no good – I give up…

So why does this sort of thing happen?

One reason – the one we’re tackling here together – is that you have limited to no examples of real struggle and failure.

Think about this a second.  Can you name one example from people you follow where you saw a detailed example of struggle, failure, or success through struggle?  Not an allusion to it – but a breakdown of the actual process.

Instead, what you tend to see online are examples of completed work (or even “release ready” works-in-progress) and “how-to’s” that walk you safely step-by-step through doing the work yourself.

While there’s nothing wrong with this, the potential for illustrating the real process of creating something on your own is extremely limited.  You can get stuck where you don’t follow instructions, or the instructions aren’t clear – but you don’t have to jump through complex hoops on your own for the most part.

You fall into an extremely similar trap with social media.  People don’t post the boring parts of work to Facebook and Twitter.  There’s no log of how many times you make something that sounds horrible, or a program that doesn’t work.  If people share self-doubt, the intensity tends to be suppressed.

So let’s be clear on this – creating good work, on a regular basis, is fucking hard.

Sharing Reality

So what’s the antidote?  What actually makes the process of creation easier and helps to get you past imposter syndrome?

Real examples of someone’s process.

Casey Muratori of Handmade Hero lays it out phenomenally here:

I’d encourage you to watch the entire video too if you’ve got the time.

When you watch someone struggle, or screw up in real-time, you learn so many separate important things:

  • You see that “smarter” people struggle, very similarly to you
  • You can learn new paths via which those struggles are worked through
  • You get an actual example of perseverance
  • You can see how others emotionally cope with great difficulty
  • You build self-confidence when watching others make simple mistakes
  • You can see the truth of how long a great idea takes to create
  • You can see how much work is actually needed to reach the finish line

All of that, along with plenty of other benefits.

I want to use my work and my platform to encourage you to create the things you dream of.  Part of that is realizing you’re closer than you ever imagined to realizing your dream.  The other part is realizing that you’ll have to put in a lot more effort than you original thought you would to get there.

So these daily tweets are my first step to welcoming you into my process, showing you success and failure.  Keep this in mind too – the stuff I’m posting excludes personal life and day job responsibilities!

Feel free to follow along, comment, and ask questions along the way.  If you’re inspired – post your own process and share it with me!  I’d love to see what you’re up to.

Copyright 2016-2017, Adam T. Croft, all rights reserved.