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Book cover for Show Your Work

Show Your Work

Author: Austin Kleon

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Self-improvement

Themes: Creativity, Growth, Personal Branding

Format: Paperback

Finished: August 22, 2017

Purchase link

Austin Kleon shows you how to put your work on display and get noticed. Everyone who does creative work should read this book.

Each of the ten sections contains practical advice, tips from the trenches, things to do and avoid, and non-intuitive insights. Kleon pushes you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and be your own biggest advocate. No one else is going to do it for you.

Here are the ten major sections:

  1. You don’t have to be a genius.
  2. Think process, not product.
  3. Share something small every day.
  4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
  5. Tell good stories.
  6. Teach what you know.
  7. Don’t turn into human span.
  8. Learn to take a punch.
  9. Sell out.
  10. Stick around.

I thought I was pretty good at sharing my work, but this book pointed out many areas in which I’m lacking:

  • I’m not good at storytelling.
  • I don’t teach others as much as I could.
  • I don’t share something every day. I go in spurts.
  • I’m not good at talking about myself at parties.
  • I don’t meet up in person with fellow creators enough.
  • I let the trolls bait me sometimes.
  • I need to stick more closely to the heuristic, “Is it useful or interesting? If so, share it.”
  • If you want to share somewhere, you have to also be a consumer. That way you learn how to contribute instead of spam.

This book is a quick read. It is around 200 pages, but at least half of the pages are well-done images, quotes, and illustrations, so there is only about 100 pages of text. Don’t worry, this isn’t a picture book. The images add to the work!

This, like any book, doesn’t have all the answers. Use what you can and leave the rest. But consider everything critically before you leave it and err on the side of using it. This book is meant to push you outside of your quiet, comfortable status quo of not sharing your work.