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On the good and bad of opening up your creative process to your audience

Jul 23, 2012

On the good and bad of opening up your creative process to your audience

Here’s Frank Chimero, talking about his experience writing The Shape Of Design:

Kickstarter opens up the creative process to an audience, and makes it feel less like a black box where ‘magic’ happens. This is both good and bad. It’s great because that openness turns a book into a continuum of experiences for the audience. They now have back-story and can connect to the work before they read it. There’s the story of making the story, and you can build a small community of people with that.

On the negative side, that openness turns the process into a kind of performance. The writer has people watching, and that can be stunting. There were several points while writing where things were a total mess, and I felt like I had to be very strategic about what I shared with the backers to make it seem like the train was still on the rails.

Emphasis mine—this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

For fun, here’s Joan Didion, talking about the writer as a kind of performer:

Somehow writing has always seemed to me to have an element of performance… Sometimes an actor performs a character, but sometimes an actor just performs. With writing, I don’t think it’s performing a character, really, if the character you’re performing is yourself. I don’t see that as playing a role. It’s just appearing in public… not somebody else’s lines. Your lines. Look at me—this is me, is, I think, what you’re saying… I think it develops into a fairly stable thing over time. I think it’s not at all stable at first. But then you kind of grow into the role you have made for yourself… The real person becomes the role you have made for yourself.

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