When we use “share” to describe information, we are divulging, disclosing, or confiding. “I want to share this news with you,” we might say, or “I’m not sharing this with everyone yet.”
When we apply “share” to the material, to food or toys, for instance, we usually mean “to give some/half to someone else” or “to divide equally.” There’s Share Bear, the Care Bear whose stomach had an image of an ice cream float with two straws in it. Let’s both have some of this together, at the same time.
Even in this digital space, I want to borrow more from Share Bear’s definition. Sometimes, people ask me if it’s odd to share my work-in-progress, to share creative work that’s unfinished. I’ve realized that I don’t do that, exactly (except for maybe in my process videos). Rather, I share the first version of a finished draft.
When I ask for feedback on a piece, I usually only share what feels mostly finished. I don’t think this is true of every artist (nor is it necessarily bad). Getting feedback (whether positive, negative, or even neutral) too early on in my process is disruptive to me.
However, I consistently devour and seek out projects centered on process. I love witnessing how people do what we do; particularly, I love hearing people reflect on how they do what they do.
For me, there are things that are essential in my process, and others that are less essential. For example, I always think of myself as writing from the inside out. I don’t have a concept or finished product in mind at all. I begin with a line or two, or a collection of words, and inch my way forward in the dark (sort of Wardrobe-Into-Narnia method). Bit by bit, I try to figure out where the piece wants me to go.
But there are absolutely pieces of my process that are less crucial to me, that have perhaps simply accumulated over time. For instance, I usually write for about an hour at a time on the weekdays, and am often writing with the goal of having a draft to post here. This morning, I was wondering…what would happen if I only worked on one poem this week? If I posted no drafts? If I posted only a partial draft? Or even just a fragment? If I wrote for a few hours one day, and none the next?
This week, I’m going to actively disrupt my usual process a little bit. What’s the fun of being an artist if we can’t break our own invented rules?
I also want to ask you: what are the essential parts of your process, and which bits could be pulled away or changed? Do you change how you create? I would love it if you share your thoughts. Here…have a straw.