A book that tells why you should “Show Your Work”

I came across this book through a recommendation by YouTuber – Ali Abdaal. Title of book itself is interesting. The idea of ‘showing the work’ has always resonated with me and after reading this book it just got stronger.

Austin Kleon’s book is a small book of 60-70 pages that you can finish reading in a day. The message of the book is clear – You need to show your work to others. Never think that it is unusable.

True to Kleon’s roots as a “writer who draws”, book makes justice to the idea of sharing and clearly stands out in terms of simple messages. “You don’t really find an audience for your work,” Kleon says. “They find you.”

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” (Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind)

Book Notes

You don’t have to be genius

  • Find your Scenius: Great ideas are birthed not by the lone genius but by a hivemind of great thinkers and artists. You don’t have to be a genius to succeed. Instead, focus on making genuine and useful contributions to a group that you identify with.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?”
  • The Best way to to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn and make a commitment to learning it in front of others
  • Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.

Think Process and not Product

  • Human beings are interested in other human beings and what other human beings do
  • No one is going to give a damn about your resume; they want to see what you have made with little fingers.
  • Become a documentarian of what you do. Start a work journal: Write your thoughts down in a notebook, or speak them into an audio recorder. Keep a scrapbook. Take a lot of photograph of your work at different stages in your process. Shoot video of your working. This isn’t about making an art, it;s about simply keeping tracking of what’s going in around you

Share something small everyday

  • Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?”. “Post as though everyone who can read it has the power to fire you.”
  • Flow = daily updates that remind people you exist. Stock = the lasting content you produce Find patterns in your flow, turn flow into stock. Small things over time, can get big.
  • Don’t think of your website as a self- promotion machine, think of it as a self- invention machine.

Open Up Your Cabinet of Curiosities.

  • Before we’re ready to take the leap of sharing our own work with the world, we can share our tastes in the work of others.
  • Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do— sometimes even more than your own work.
  • Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too.
  • You should always share the work of others as if it were your own, treating it with respect and care.

Tell Good Stories.

  • Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.
  • You’re never “keeping it real” with your lack of proofreading and punctuation, you’re keeping it unintelligible.

Teach What You Know.

  • The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to helpful reference materials. Create some tutorials and post them online. Use pictures, words, and video. Take people step- by- step through part of your process.

Don’t Turn Into Human Spam.

  • If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community.
  • If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.

Stick Around

  • A successful or failed project is no guarantee of another success or failure. Whether you’ve just won big or lost big, you still have to face the question “What’s next?”
  • Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning it out in the open. Document your progress and share as you go so that others can learn along with you. Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you.