I am starting to “work with the garage door open.”
Robin Sloan coined the phrase in an article discussing/dreaming up new ways of working, networking, publishing, creating, and connecting online. These “new ways of relating” are less reliant on the social networks we’ve become accustomed to over the last decade or two.
About working with the garage door open, Sloan wrote:
This isn’t a time for “products”, or product launches. It’s not a time to toil in secret for a year and then reveal what you’d made with a shiny landing page.
Rather, I believe it’s a time to explain as you go. Our “work”, in an important sense, is to get into each other’s heads; to blast out cosmic rays that might give rise, in other minds, to new ideas.
The central idea here is nothing new. In fact, it might be one of the most important amendments added to the constitution of OnlineMarketingLand in the last decade. This idea is especially prevalent in conversations about audience building and social media networks.
For example, Pat Flynn talks about “opening the factory doors” in his book Superfans. He writes:
If possible, try to open your doors related to something trackable each month! This will keep your audience hooked and excited to see how things progress over time. Perhaps it’s miles ran, or carbon emissions avoided, or how much debt paid off. These types of numbers, especially when related to your business, are inspiring and definitely make people feel special for knowing insider info
This is, of course, the central idea in Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work. Kleon encourages creatives to be open about the creative process. He wants us to document our creative journeys, showing all the stages from ideation to delivery. He wants us to show what’s behind the scenes. He wants us to open the garage door.
But Robin Sloan’s approach isn’t necessarily about building audiences per se, but about the exchange of ideas, networking, and creativity. And it comes at time when we’re growing more disillusioned with social media (and with the media more generally).
The social media landscape in 2023 is a bit like a war zone. It is fragmented, cluttered, and in disarray. And now social media refugees are finding asylum in what was once considered enemy territory. All the more reason to think about new ways of relating that are less reliant on pre-established social media networks.
Enter THE CREATOR’S LOG.
The creator’s log, defined
A creator’s log is not unlike a captain’s log. It is a journal used by artists, writers, programmers, or anyone else involved in the creation of things to document and track their creative journeys.
A creator’s log is a dedicated space for us to record our creative process, projects, and experiences.
In our creator’s logs, we can (and should) document our
- Creative Progress: Let’s track our daily, weekly, or project-specific progress. Let’s include details like the number of words written, hours spent on a project, or the completion of specific creative tasks.
- Ideas and Inspiration: Let’s jot down ideas, inspirations, and insights that come to us. These can be related to ongoing projects or new concepts, outlines, and sketches for future work.
- Project Updates: Let’s provide updates on ongoing creative projects and project-based work. These can describe what has been accomplished, any challenges faced, and plans for the next steps.
- Reflection and Assessment: Let’s use our logs to reflect on our work openly, to discuss what worked well and what didn’t.
- A Creative Commonplace Book: Let’s write down quotes, references, or resources that inspire us and/or inform our work.
- Creative Goals: Let’s discuss our short-term and long-term creative goals and track our progress towards achieving them.
- Personal Insights: Let’s use this space to share thoughts, feelings, and personal insights related to our creative journeys.
- Creative To-Do Lists: Let’s list and tick-off our creative to-dos.
“Wait a minute,” you might say. “This sounds awfully like a blog.”
Indeed. A blog is one medium through which we can record and document our creative process. But with a blog, anything goes. I want a form that is specific for creatives. I want a messier, scrappier place whose focus is not the individual blogger but the creative work and the creative process itself. I want a place where unfinished symphonies live and dried paint happily clings to floors and clothes. A messy garage? A meticulous one? Whatever you want. This is what a creator’s log is all about.
The creator’s log is a self-referential construct; it is a creative space that acknowledges the power of creative spaces. It is creativity that acknowledges itself.
My creative log
For me, “working with the garage door open” means documenting the creative process in such a way that anyone can walk by and glance at my work. Boosting the signal on social media is fine, so long as the “garage” that you principally work in is your own.
To this end, I’m starting a new area on my website called Creator’s Log. My clog (😬) will chronicle my creative journey. Its purpose is to document my progress, observations, ideas and inspirations, reflections, and insights that occur along the way. You’re welcome to stop by and see what I’m working on.
Sometimes I’ll be tinkering, sometimes I’ll be doing project-based work, and sometimes I’ll be spinning my wheels. Sometimes there will be a flurry of activity, and sometimes periods of silence. But in all instances, you’re invited to look over my shoulder, ask questions, advise me on a better way of doing things, or just snoop around.
I’ll be the first to admit that few people might find this type of artifact interesting. There are certainly better ways to build audiences. But this is not about building audiences. It is about building networks and bodies of work.