Show Your Work

Notes and takeaways from Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work

Show your work is the follow-up to Steal Like An Artist, where he emphasizes the importance of sharing your work and the perks of doing the same.

Have you ever felt like an Outlier? You're the only one interested in a craft, hobby, or idea. How do you meet and work with people with similar interests as you? - By showing your work. Initially, it might feel like a lonely journey, but soon you will realize you're not alone.

Inorder for people to find you, you need to be findable

That brings us to the first point of the book

I'm not a Genius - So what? Be a Scenius

The word Genius gives us an illusion that great talent is built in isolation or mom's womb, but that isn't the case in reality.

Great ideas are birthed by group of creative individuals

Scenius is a group of people who comes together to share ideas about a shared interest. An example of Scenius is Renaissance, but you don't have to worry about that. Today's internet has a community for everything. Finding a group of Scenius is a no brainer.

How to Share Without Fear of Judgement - Be an Amateur

Amateur - An enthusiast who pursues work in the spirit of love, regardless of potential fame or money

Often when it comes to putting your work online biggest fear is the fear of judgment. To get over this, think of sharing (Tweeting, blogging, Youtubing) as a way of sharing what you learn.

When you're an Amateur and say it openly people will swoop in to help you to get better. Being an Amateur also gives you an unfair advantage in looking at knowledge gaps. Look for them and fill them

[How to look for knowledge gaps when learning something new?]

But I don't have anything to Share - Think Process, not Product

You're not alone. With the amount of information overload, it's common to feel that you don't have anything new to say. Another problem in some cultures and education systems is that it shrinks our voices and thoughts so much that we believe we have nothing interesting to say.

Trust me, you do.

You can't find your voice if you don't use it

So how to find it? Writing is a great way to find a voice. You can find it almost everywhere. Here is a simple exercise that can help. Next time you read an article, watch a movie or have a conversation with a friend you liked and enjoyed, come back and write about it. Write about what you liked, what resonated with you, and which parts could have been better. Right there is your voice.

Now you can take this exercise and expand it to other parts of your work. At the end of each day, write a log about your work. Think about the parts other people might find useful. Maybe you can change your email and publish it as a template.

It doesn't matter what the world thinks about your taste. If you like something share it. Be open and honest about what you like, even if it's trash. Own your interests.

All it takes to uncover hidden gem is a clear eye, open mind, willingness to search for inpsiration where other people won't

Anxiety with Sharing - Daily Dispatch

We all know that sinking feeling before hitting that submit/publish button, right? Will I be judged? Will people care? Is it worthy enough? The only way to find answers to this is by putting your work out there.

Make it a habit to send out a daily dispatch of your work. Became a documentarian of what you do. Whatever the nature of your work, there are people interested in what you do everyday

  • Start a project, Do.

  • Start a work journal.

  • Journal your thoughts

  • Journal your process

  • Journal your problems

  • Take pictures of your work at different times

Use this as your source of daily dispatch. Remember you are doing this for yourself, not for others.

Don't think of your website as a self promotion machine it is a self invention machine

Your Work Doesn't Speak for Itself

You have to do that too. I liked this story that was mentioned in the book.

Imagine you are at a museum where there are two identical paintings that no human can tell apart. The curator comes around, and you ask them, "What is the difference between these paintings"

The curator explains how Painting 1 was from the 80th century by an unsung artist who appreciated certain aspects of art and continues to explain it for another 10 mins. When you question the other painting, they say it was a replica made by an art student.

Now, which painting do you value the most? 15 mins earlier, both paintings had the same value, but the story by the curator changed the whole dynamic of how you look at it. The same applies to your work. Yes, you have to do good work, no doubts there. But the story you add to it takes it to the next level.

How to Produce Good Work? - The "So What?" Test

Initial days of your creative work, go ahead and share as much as possible. Share the little steps and the big ones. Don't filter out anything.

The so what test - Before you post something online, ask yourself, "so what?"

The act of sharing should come from generosity.

  • Is this helpful?

  • Is this entertaining?

  • Am I comfortable with others seeing my work?

Share stuff because you like the content, not for the eyeballs.

Teach what you know. Share your trade secrets. There is an intuition that you develop through years and years of practice. Teaching doesn't mean instant competition just because someone knows how you do things. They can't become you. The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it.

Make people better at something they wanna be better at

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