Book Summary :10 takeaways from ‘Show Your Work’ By Austin Kleon

<collaborative post> Generally inclined to non-fiction, I bumped into this book while watching a YouTube video of Ali Abdaal (an ex-doctor turned YouTuber) and absolutely loved it. Frankly, I did not believe in the idea of self promotion and to me sharing each and every thing I do was like showing off on the internet. However, this book puts in a new angle at putting yourself out there. Putting your ideas out there, of course selectively. To meet like minded people, who can lift and support each other. Here’s my takeaways from this inspiring book – every new blogger, entrepreneur in creative space or a beginner level artist must read.

1.It’s OK not to be genius, being amatuer is good.

Austin pointed out a striking fact. The world, now a days, is changing so fast that every one is an amatuer by default and not a genius. It’s better to consider yourself as a beginner always as it opens your mind to taking more risks and learning new things. You do need to wait to become a genius to start doing anything. Internet is a community that will eventually attract like minded people to you, if you let your ideas float into the world. Embrace the fact that you are here on a short journey, share as much as you can with the world!

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

– Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

2. Show the process, not just the end product.

Gone are the days when people used to keep the process of making the art a secret and show only the end result. Share to whatever extent you want, show the often invisible process – to bond with people going through the same journey as you and create a network. You have a full blown studio in your hands – your smart phone. Record your work. Take videos and photos as and when you are doing something! And then, you will have enough material to show your journey!

3. Do something small everyday.

Overnight success is a myth. Share your inspiration or process via blog post, email or a simple photo or video one day at a time. Social media can sometimes be a complete waste of time. Use social media platforms to “Show your Work” – but don’t hesitate to quit any platform if it’s not working for you! Don’t deter yourself from sharing anything, thinking that your work is crap – share everything that you deem adds value and let the audience decide what’s good, what’s not !

4. ‘Own’ your own space on internet.

Social media apps will come and go. However, blog can be your lifetime worth of work. Build your own website, get your own domain name. Fretting over what the name should be? Use <yourname>.com as your website. Start adding the things you care about on your little space on the World Wide Web.

5. The more you give, the more you get.

Don’t be a hoarder and keep everything to yourself. If you learn something that can be useful for others, share it. You will always have something to share – when you are starting, your work may not be that good!At that moment, you can always share what inspires you, what excites you and who inspires you! Also, it’s always a good idea to credit others for what they do, if you share their work!

6. Improve your story-telling skills.

Every story has a structure: the problem comes first, then the work done to solve the problem and then how it turned out to be in the end. The better story you tell, the more impact it will have on the audience and the more will be value of your work. It’s all proportional.

7. You don’t need a fancy bio.

No one cares to read through a long bio, so it’s best not to overthink it. Keep it short – up to two sentences & tell the readers exactly what they can expect from your work. Strike adjectives from bio – you don’t need to brag, let your work show how you are. 

8. Don’t be a human spam – talking only about yourself or doing the same things over.

Listen more. Don’t make the world all about yourself. Work with people, become collaborators. Reflect on how an activity makes you feel. Do more of what excites you and stop doing what absolutely drains you. Be with people who lift you, cut the people who bring you down. If a hobby becomes boring, give it up.

9. Learn how to take a punch.

If you are fairly successful, at some point or other, you will face criticism. Easier said than done but do not take criticism badly. Let it not stop you -put out your work and keep moving. Most importantly, size up the people who give feedback, before taking it. Take in the feedback from the people you consider worth listening to – those who can help you grow. 

10. Stick around long enough.

Almost all success stories go like this – people get their breakthrough when they are about to give up. Don’t quit prematurely because you never know what’s coming next. Don’t lose momentum – if you are feeling burnt out – recharge and get back again. You could include a daily recharge by getting away from your work completely and enjoying nature, going for exercise or simply walking your dog.

What’s best about the book is that it gives you practical tips for this day and age to remove self doubt and show your work in the form of process and not just the end product. Also, the assurance that you don’t need 100% perfection or be a genius at something, to be of value to others.

I personally love audio books. If you do want to hear the book for free, head over to YouTube and search for the audio book version for “Show Your Wok by Austin Kleon.


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