Professional Writer ♦ Amateur Swashbuckler

Practice in Public

“This is what happens when we practice in public: we not only hone our abilities but attract an audience interested in what we’re sharing.”

Jeff Goines

There’s a temptation for every creative to keep their work hidden until perfect, until there’s a large volume of work with sharing with the world in some strike of lightning. Of course, by the time you’ve shared this tome of work, it often comes out to crickets who didn’t even know you existed.

This is why it can be invaluable to share your work publicly, as early as the work can stand up for it. It pushes you to be accountable to showing the work, giving an incentive to finishing something you might not have had before. It also can be a way of building an audience over time who become interested and invested in the work you’re creating.

Most of us remember the Martian and immediately think of it as a sensational success, a movie staring Matt Damon and a book everyone was either reading or talking about reading. Like a lot of successes, it didn’t spring from the ether that way. Andy Weir began writing the book, chapter by chapter as a serialized story on his website. There, an audience started following the story of the stranded astronaut.

Eventually, fans asked Weir to publish a Kindle version so they could read it on their devices. He obliged and self-published the story on Kindle for ninety nine cents, and it quickly became the best selling book on Kindle at the time. This got the attention of publishers, who bought the printing and audiobook rights starting the ball rolling to how we remember the story today.

None of this would have happened had Andy Weir not publicly shared his work, sharing a chapter at a time. He could have written the whole thing, put it on Kindle and only a handful may have read it. Instead, he practiced in public and gained an audience along the way.

Now this wasn’t the first attempt Weir had made, he had been writing a lot of things online before which hadn’t taken off, but this was the story and the book which made the biggest liftoff.

When I publish this post, it’s an example of me practicing in public. Sharing my writing, my ideas with the world. It’s something I’ve done for years over blogs and Podcasts, and while it’s not given me a movie deal for a Matt Damon vehicle, it has opened different doors of opportunity. Because of my Podcast, the International Organic Inspector’s Association, an organization I belonged to, asked me to host and moderate both live and online events because they knew I could speak into a microphone and ask articulate questions.

Don’t misunderstand, sharing your work publicly is not always a means of success, especially not immediate success. In the case of Andy Weir, to a lesser degree myself, we had been publishing content which was ignored or overlooked for years before someone noticed and gave us a chance because of it. Still the opportunities wouldn’t have come about if we didn’t demonstrate what we could do and make it available for people to see.

Depending on your medium depends on how you can demonstrate your art, but one of the greatest uses of the internet today is the opportunity you have to share what you can do publicly. Demonstrate your ideas, and make your skills known to the world. For a long time it may feel like you’re playing for an audience of none, but as time goes on you’ll be amazed at the results along the way.