Show Your Work – Book Notes

Share Your Work has sparked my renewed energy and intention to share more and to more authentically share my personal journey. In this social-media, entrepreneurial world, few could not benefit from reading and translating Kleon’s suggestions into whatever they find the passion for creating. While his examples are about blogging and writing, the same principles apply to almost any trade, profession, skill set.

I encourage every college student, and every adult stuck in life-sucking jobs to invest 30-45 minutes in reading, finding some inspiration, and taking even small steps to implement Kleon’s suggestions.

Title: Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being CreativeAuthor: Austin Kleon is a New York Times bestselling author[of five books: Steal Like an ArtistShow Your Work!; Keep Going; Steal Like An Artist Journal; and Newspaper Blackout.  Kleon’s works focus on creativity in today’s world. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Kleon

Publication: Workman Publishing Company, New York

Book in Three Sentences:

  1. Share your thinking about what you love, the process that led there, and do it online for free; if it’s not online, it doesn’t exist.
  2. It does not require being an expert to share what you are discovering; you will change so don’t wait until you have it all figured out. 
  3. Sharing online will attract others who have the same interest as an audience and as collaborators from whom you can learn and share more.

Impressions: Share Your Work is a natural extension of his book Steal Like an Artist (Book Summary here.) The suggestions are not surprising, and yet he manages to package them with inspiring quotes, and I found motivating me to action. 

My Favorite Quotes: 

  • “That’s all any of us are: amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.” Charlie Chaplin -14
  • “The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning all of us into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.” Austin Kleon – 19
  • “The real risk is not changing,“ said saxophonist John Coltrane. I have to feel I am after something. If I make money fine. But I’d rather be striving. It’s the striving, man, it’s what I want.“- 174

My Reading Highlights:

Be an Amateur

“That’s all any of us are: amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.” Charlie Chaplin -14

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki – 15 

Learn in the open so others can learn from your failures and successes.  

“The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning all of us into amateurs.

Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.” Austin Kleon – 19 

Share what you love, and the people who love the same thing will find you. -19 

in this day and age, If your work is not online, it doesn’t exist. – 23 

Think Process, Not Product

Become a documentarian of what you do. -39 

Start – scoop up the scraps and the residue of your process and shape them into some interesting bit of media you can share. -41 

Share something small every day 
Early-stage – share what interests and inspires you. 
Middle stage – share your methods
End stages-show product, tell stories.  

Ask the ‘so what’ question before posting:
“Post as though everyone has the power to fire you.”- Lauren Cerand- 57 

Your website does not have to look pretty; it just has to exist  67
Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine; think of it as a self-invention machine. 

Don’t be a hoarder
“The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually, you’ll become stale. If you give everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. … sometimes the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” – Paul Arden 
Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people into who you are and what you do – sometimes more than your own work. – 77 

Give credit or don’t share. 

Story Structure is Everything: 
“A character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.” John Gardener -55 
“Teaching does it mean instant competition. Just because you know a master’s technique doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to emulate it right away.” – 117 

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 videos

Take people step-by-step through part of your process.” 117

Don’t look for fans; look for collaborators. “

You want hearts, not eyeballs.” – 129 

Whatever excites you, go do it. Whatever drains you, stop doing it.“ – Derek Sivers.

Learn to take a punch “ don’t feed the trolls.” 154 

Sell out
Sell out… I am not crazy about that word. We’re all entrepreneurs. To me, I don’t care if you are a furniture store or whatever – the best sign you can put up is sold out.” – Bill Withers – 160 
“When people are asked to get out their wallets, you find out how much they really value what you do.” – 166
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Yet, a life of creativity is all about change – moving forward, taking chances, exploring new frontiers.

“The real risk is not changing,“ said saxophonist John Coltrane. I have to feel I am after something. If I make money, fine. But I’d rather be striving; it’s the striving, man, it’s what I want.“– 174

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