The Cleary Theory

Show Your Work

April 10, 2021 • ☕️ 2 min read

After spending the last few years on my reading list, I’ve finally gotten around to reading ‘Show Your Work’ by Austin Kleon. Had I known that it’d inspire me as much as it has or that it’s a mere 116 pages of large text and pictures, I’d have dove in much earlier.

Like many interested in writing, creating and sharing online, I’ve felt frustrated not knowing where to start. But I, and possibly you, have had it all wrong. As Austin says, instead of writing because I have something to say, I should be writing to discover what I have to say.

We all know how helpful thinking out loud can be when discussing ideas and problems with friends. Instead of viewing writing and creating online as shameless self-promotion, perhaps we should see it as a form of self-discovery.

Our first 100 blog posts will suck, but they’re essential in creating the 101st post that will change our lives. The value in the first 100 posts is not just in improving writing skills; they sow the seeds of what the masterpiece will end up becoming.

It’s with this in mind that I’m going to be blogging and writing more often. I want to learn to write as well as I can, but more importantly, I’m in pursuit of discovering what I truly care about.

Along with writing online, another passion of mine is playing guitar. I first started learning a couple of years ago to accompany my singing. But after hearing Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing the first time, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could and diving deep into the world of music. The guitar is my chosen vehicle.

I also want to document my learning progress, whether it’s to feel accomplished by looking back or analysing my current playing.

We often enjoy viewing the in-progress projects of others. We always talk about how the journey is as valuable as the destination for the person on it. This can extend to those that observe the journey. Rocky wouldn’t be such a masterpiece if it weren’t for the training montages. We love to see the process.

I’m not sure what my end goal is yet. I’d like to one day perform in some capacity, and I know that performance anxiety will undoubtedly hit when I do.

If I treated guitar playing the same as I’ve done with my writing in the past, I’d be waiting for the day in which I could write my own ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the spot. So instead, I’m going to document my journey.

Each week, I will share two videos of my guitar ‘practice’ sessions on Instagram. First take, no rehearsing, no matter how scrappy it is. This way, I’ll keep track of my progress and get used to sharing my playing early on. If I’m baring all with regards to my practice and what I’m struggling with, then hopefully, posting a cover or recording of an original song will be easier when it’s time.

I want to work on lots of other skills and projects, and I intend to show my work for each of them.

What are you working on?

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    The Cleary Theory

    Matt Cleary

    Matt Cleary's musings on fitness, startups and tryin' to live the good life. You should follow him on Twitter