“Think Process, Not Product” – Why the Process Is Just as Important as the Product


It’s been awhile since I last posted. I stopped posting because I have been going through a period of self-doubt. Creative writing is new to me. It’s not something that comes easily, so it can be a struggle to get my thoughts written out into sentences that convey the meaning I am trying to get across. When my written words don’t match my thoughts I get really frustrated. The frustration and my self-doubt began to fuel negative thoughts. I started telling myself I was never going to be good enough, and that because I was a horrible writer, no one cared about what I had say.

Talking to myself like that put me in a shitty mental state. So I stopped writing the story and blog posts.

But I don’t want to be in this shitty mental state anymore. Writing A Gift from Aurth is an important dream of mine. I am not ready to give up on it, and I am not ready to give up on myself!

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to change my way of thinking so I can get back on track. Part of this process has been looking back on what has inspired me. This week I bought Austin Kleon’s new book, Show Your Work! It’s the sequel to his hugely successful book Steal Like an Artist, which is a guide to “unlocking your creativity.” I read it a few years ago when I was first thinking of writing a book. Now that I am having troubles, it makes sense to look at what new advice Kleon has to offer.

Show Your Work! is the next step in the creative process. In this book, which is about how to share your work with the world, Kleon offers 10 tips on opening up yourself and your work. My favorite tip so far is #2: Think Process, Not Product. What Kleon is saying with this second tip is that the process is just as important as the final product. The process is what allows the creator to evolve and the develop the idea. In fact, the finished product can only be as good as the process. He also encourages sharing the development of your work with people because it is interesting for them to see how the idea became what they are seeing or reading. Sharing can also help someone else start their own creative process because they are inspired by what they see.

Reading that second tip was what I needed. My self-doubts are rooted in an expectation I have for myself to reach the final product. I was not giving myself room to grow as a writer. Instead, I was expecting myself to be perfect with every word I wrote. When I wasn’t, I saw it as a personal failure. Now I know the struggle is a part of the process. It’s the necessary work, experimentation and discovery that needs to happen before a final product can be made. If I stop writing, I will never get better because I will not have gone through everything it takes to learn and grow.

The second tip has also gotten me rethinking what I am posting on the blog. I have been sharing with you edited and developed ideas. Maybe I should start sharing where these ideas come from and how they take shape. As Kleon puts it in the book, “Human beings are interested in other human beings and what other human beings do.” Personally, I relate to the struggles people go though and when someone becomes successful at something, I am interested in how they achieved it.

No one is naturally good at anything. It may seem like it when we see a beautiful painting, read an insightful manuscript, or watch a gentle recital, but what we are seeing is the finished product. We are not seeing everything it took for that person to get where they are when they present their work to the world. I think that by opening myself up and letting you see more of my process I will not only free myself of expectations to finish the story, I will hopefully also inspire you to start something of your own.

I am ready to start writing again. What are you going to start?

P.S. – It took me two days, three drafts and six cups of coffee to write this.

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