Austin Kleon
Show Your Work

Show Your Work

10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

by Austin Kleon, 116 pages

Finished on 3rd of November, 2021
🛒 Buy here


🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.
  2. You should be able to explain your work to a kindergartner, a senior citizen, and everybody in between.
  3. Don't be afraid to be embarrassed, but protect your own vulnerabilities.

🎨 Impressions

It's a book written for insecure artistic people and people who are trying something new. It provides a shove into the right direction, it's motivating. The language is easy and reading it takes no more than a couple hours – it serves its purpose well. Most things he explains are already self-evident and can seem patronizing to read. In other cases, it's nice to read something put into words which you have known intrinsically.

🍀 How the Book Changed Me

  • Do things that interest you enough for you to become passionate about them, be an "amateur" (= French: lover). "You can find the time if you look for it."
  • In order to be more effective at showing your work, you need to become a better storyteller.
  • The book gave me more confidence to share more of what I think and write about. I want to read more of the thoughts of people who I think are interesting, so I might as well start with myself.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

  1. You don't really find an audience for your work; they find you.
  2. Creativity is a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.
  3. "Anyone who isn't embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn't learning enough" (Alain de Botton)

📔 Summary & Notes

  • Stop wasting your time networking, start taking advantage of your network. Sharing ideas and knowledge with each other, the parties involved will gain inspiration, ideas, an audience.

1: You Don't Have to be a Genius

  • "Lone genius myth": creativity is not an antisocial act performed by only a few great figures. It springs from a scene of people who work together and support each other.
  • Online, all people within a scene, the apprentice and the master, can find each other, connect, and contribute.
  • Raw enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Be an "amateur" (= French: lover) and use whatever tools you can get your hands on to try and get your ideas into the world.
  • Current undeniable truth: If your work isn't online, it doesn't exist.
  • Steve Jobs: "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked."

2: Think Process, Not Product

  • "People really want to see how the sausage gets made." We are interested in other human beings and what other human beings do.
  • Your résumé isn't interesting. People want to see what you made with your own hands so far.

3: Share Something Small Everyday

  • A daily dispatch is better than a résumé or portfolio, because it shows what we're working on right now.
  • Get into the habit of answering the question "What are you working on?" often. Ask it others.
  • "Post as though everyone who can read it has the power to fire you."
  • Social media can be used as a public thinking place. We think out loud, let others think back at us, and then think some more.
  • Have your own website. Don't think of it as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.

4: Open Up Your Cabinet of Curiosities

  • "You're only as good as your record collection." – Where do you get your inspiration? What sorts of things do you fill your head with? What do you read? Do you subscribe to anything?
  • We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage.
  • Don't try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like.

5: Tell Good Stories

  • Presentation matters: when you show something, people's assessment of it will be deeply affected by what you tell them about it.
  • If you want to become more effective at sharing your work, become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.
  • Keep your audience in mind. Speak to them directly and in plain language. Value their time.

6: Teach What You Know

  • The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list.

7: Don't Turn Into Human Spam

  • If you want fans, you have to be a fan first.
  • If you want followers, "Have you tried making yourself a more interesting person?" (not meant in a mean way.) Interesting = interested; be curious.

8: Learn to Take a Punch

  • Relax, no one has ever died from a bad review.
  • Protect your vulnerable areas, but remember: "Compulsive avoidance of embarrassment is a form of suicide."
  • Remember your work is something you do, not who you are.
  • The troll in your head needs to be silenced.

9: Sell Out

  • Don't be one of those horrible fans who stops listening to your favorite band just because they have had a hit single.
  • Don't be afraid to charge for your work, but put a price on it that you think is fair.
  • People who holler "Sellout!" are the ones who don't want things to ever change.

10: Stick Around

  • This way you're going to get what you want.
  • Ernest Hemingway would stop in the middle of a sentence at the end of his day's work so he knew where to start in the morning.
  • Take a sabbatical to recharge, every 7 years. Taking one can take two years of planning and budgeting, and warning your clients a full year in advance.

How do you feel after reading this?

This helps me assess the quality of my writing and improve it.

Leave a Comment

This post’s URL is
Copy to Clipboard for Sharing

Don’t want to miss new stories?

Join the gang and you’ll get notified by email!

You’ll never ever receive spam email and you can unsubscribe at any point.