Backstage vs. onstage

I heard a great episode of the always solid Back to Work podcast recently. In which Merlin Mann relayed a phrase he heard from the novelist Patrick Rothfuss. Rothfuss is the author of The Kingkiller Chronicle. Rothfuss takes a lot of abuse online as the third book in the trilogy has been in the works for years. Book two, The Wise Man’s Fear came out in 2013.

Allegedly Book 3 is done” and in a state of editing. People seem pissed off about that. So this quote has some personal background for Rothfuss, I am sure.

He said (paraphrased):

Don’t compare your backstage to their onstage.

We usually only see the person’s work as it launches, gets released or published. We don’t see the hours of effort that went into producing the work. A lot of people and places online will try to sell you the 3 easy steps to drawing, making games, blogging, etc.

There are three steps, but it turns out that they aren’t easy.

To make a thing, follow these time consuming, islolating and nerve racking steps:

  1. Isolate yourself so you can focus
  2. Do the work
  3. Get feedback, and repeat

That’s it. That’s the backstage that so many people selling us things gloss over, or try to make glossy.

Do the work.