bf.wtf

writing by Ben Follington

Putting it out there

July 11, 2019

As creators we are often self-conscious of our works-in-progress. We fear the public misunderstanding our message or overlooking our project due to messiness. It’s tempting, and easy, to keep your work hidden until it’s “ready” for the world to see. Lately I’ve been aiming to produce something “tweetable” for each day that I work on the current TwoPM prototype.

I’ve always erred on the side of perfectionism. This has a lot of benefits in terms of the quality of your output but, when it comes down to it, releasing something is infinitely better than nothing. In turn, it allows you to build momentum - specifically two different kinds:

Personal momentum

When producing something demonstrable to the public you’ll feel the reward circuits kick in. You’ve wrapped something up conceptually and often left it in a logical state to pick back up. This is especially valuable for me, where I’m slotting work on side-projects around my full-time job.

Public momentum

By constantly sharing your progress with the world you’re doing something that people love to neglect, marketing. People want to follow the progress of interesting projects, so if people respond to what you share… It’s a good sign that it might be interesting. This is a great way to validate an idea of almost any kind.

Attention please!

I find that packaging something up for other people forces me to think clearly about it. Continuity from session to session is massively increased if I’ve got a clear idea of what I’ve delivered previously that I can browse through.

There’s a meta element at play here, I’m doing the same thing with this smaller post. Trying to formulate my thoughts clearly and capture them without spending all week turning it into an essay.

However, over the past few weeks I’ve run into a very common problem. What I’m sharing is starting to get more attention than in the past, which is very exciting. The downside here is that it’s tempting to focus on maximising the response I get, rather than delivering what matters most. Sometimes the work I have to do on a given day just doesn’t produce a very attention grabbing tweet… And that’s ok. The blog posts that mean the most to me and the hardest programming problems I solve often lead to a less explosive response online.

The response to my last post was somewhat underwhelming. I feel strongly about the point I was trying to make but it’s not a topic that’s easy to draw people in with. On the day I released it I received feedback (both from strangers and close friends) that hurt a little. I found myself questioning whether my thoughts are worth sharing.

I managed to pull myself out of that nosedive by remembering that the feedback was accurate and I have a long way to go still in understanding so many things. Putting out work that isn’t perfect doesn’t diminish my value as a person and putting work-in-progress thoughts out there is nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s important to zoom out and look at the reception to what you’re doing in aggregate, trends are more useful than data points.

✌️ bf

July 11, 2019

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bf.wtf

Thoughts on a good life, amateur philosophy, self-optimisation, making video games, music, software engineering, user interfaces and more.