Show you work is a book that has made a big impact on me. Austin Kleon advocates sharing your work, your process and your ideas with the world and lays out a blue print on how to do it. I have certainly been inspired to share more of my work after reading this book (this blog is a direct result of it). I hope it inspires you to share your work too.
Here are some of my notes on the book.
You don’t have to be a genius
Geniuses don’t work in isolation and good work is not created in isolation. Instead, we geniuses are constantly inspired by other people’s work that drives us to hone our own craft
Be an amateur, because in the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few. They are just regular people who get obsessed by something and spend a ton of time thinking out loud about it.
The best way 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.
You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it: If your work isn’t online in this day and age, it does not exist.
Read obituaries: take inspiration from those who have walked this earth before us.
Think Process, Not Product
Take people behind the scenes: human beings are interested in other human beings, how they work, how they solve problems. Show them this world.
Become a documentarian of what you do (start a work journal, photograph album, scrapbook and share insights).
Share Something Small Everyday
Send out a daily dispatch (could be something very small tweet, photo, blog post etc.)
The “So What?” Test: does the work matter? Ask the So What question after reading the tweet or blog post.
Turn your flow into stock. Collect small pebbles of your work everyday, and by the end you can build a wall, house, play park or however you want to arrange them with it.
Build a good domain name. You need to own your share on the internet (and not on facebook, twitter etc.) Your own name. Don’t think of it as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.
Open Up Your Cabinet of Curiosities
Don’t be a hoarder: Your influences are all worth sharing, because they show people who you really are.
No guilty pleasures. When you find things you genuinely enjoy, don’t let anyone else make you feel about it.
Credit is always due. Attribution is key on the internet.
Tell good Stories
You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.
Structure is everything. You stories will get better the more you tell them.
Talk about yourself at parties. Have an answer to the question: So What do you do? at parties. For example: “I am a writer, who draws.” Don’t ever use Ninja, rockstar, guru in your bio. Ever.
Teach what you Know
Share your trade secrets: the minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to helpful reference materials. teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it.
Don’t Turn into Human Spam
Listen, Be thoughtful. Don’t send out spam. People see straight through your selling techniques.
You want hearts not eyballs: stop worrying how many people follow you online. have a few followers that are really committed to you and your cause. Make stuff you love and talk about it and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff too.
Vampire Test. Don’t stay around people who suck the life blood out of you and drain your energy.
Identify your fellow knuckleballers. Meet with people who share a common passion as you do. Meet at meetup.
Learn to take a Punch
Let em take their best shot. As soon as you put your work out there, there will be critics. Roll with the punches. Don’t feed the trolls.
Even the renessaince had to be funded. People need to eat and pay the rent. Sell the work you are proud of and be proud of it.
Pass around the hat.
Keep a mailing list. Make more work for yourself: try new things, be ambitious.
Pay it forward: You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.
Don’t quit your show: every career is full of ups and downs. Just keep going.
Chain smoke: Artists who’ve managed to achieve lifelong careers: they all have been able to persevere, regardless of success or failure.
Go Away, so you can come back: You need rest periods too in order to recover and put your best work forward.
Begin Again. Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning in the open.