Show Your Work

By Austin Kleon

Creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds. (Location 57)

Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but about what you have to contribute—the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start. (Location 60)

Virtual scenes where people go to hang out and talk about the things they care about. (Location 66)

They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims. (Location 75)

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” (Location 76)

Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.” (Location 80)

Make a point of learning in the open, so that others can learn from your failures and successes. (Location 82)

“The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has recently met. The expert met it so long ago he has forgotten.” (Location 88)

This is yet another trait of amateurs—they’ll use whatever tools they can get their hands on to try to get their ideas into the world. (Location 95)

The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others. (Location 97)

Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first. (Location 99)

Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find (Location 101)

I’m not going to sit here and wait for things to happen, I’m going to make them happen, and if people think I’m an idiot I don’t care.” (Location 131)

But today, by taking advantage of the Internet and social media, an artist can share whatever she wants, whenever she wants, at almost no cost. (Location 163)

Audiences not only want to stumble across great work, but they, too, long to be creative and part of the creative process. By letting go of our egos (Location 174)

In fact, sharing your process might actually be most valuable if the products of your work aren’t easily shared, if you’re still in the apprentice stage of your work, if you can’t just slap up a portfolio and call it a day, or if your process doesn’t necessarily lead to tangible finished products. (Location 191)

Become a documentarian of what you do. Start a work journal: Write your thoughts down in a notebook, or speak them into an audio recorder. Keep a scrapbook. Take a lot of photographs of your work at different stages in your process. Shoot video of you working. This isn’t about making art, it’s about simply keeping track of what’s going on around you. (Location 197)

Take advantage of all the cheap, easy tools at your disposal—these days, most of us carry a fully functional multimedia studio around in our smartphones. (Location 199)

Your daily dispatch can be anything you want—a blog post, an email, a tweet, a YouTube video, or some other little bit of media. (Location 221)

Don’t worry about being on every platform; pick and choose based on what you do and the people you’re trying to reach. (Location 224)

Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work. (Location 234)

You find time the same place you find spare change: in the nooks and crannies. You find it in the cracks between the big stuff—your commute, your lunch break, the few hours after your kids go to bed. (Location 240)

Of course, don’t let sharing your work take precedence over actually doing your work. (Location 243)

“Post as though everyone who can read it has the power to fire you.” (Location 253)

The act of sharing is one of generosity—you’re (Location 255)

you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen. (Location 256)

Note: Creating content and sharing it everyday is like documenting your life to pave way for a documentary or your biography.

“Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (Location 268)

When you detect these patterns, you can start gathering these bits and pieces and turn them into something bigger and more substantial. (Location 276)

For example, a lot of the ideas in this book started out as tweets, which then became blog posts, which then became book chapters. (Location 278)

Go register a domain name. Buy www.[insert your name here].com. (Location 291)

Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine. (Location 295)

Fill your website with your work and your ideas and the stuff you care about. (Location 296)

Don’t give in. Don’t let it fall into neglect. Think about it in the long term. Stick with it, maintain it, and let it change with you over time. (Location 297)

Be concerned with doing good work . . . and if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.” (Location 300)

Whether people show up or they don’t, you’re out there, doing your thing, ready whenever they are. (Location 303)

If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. (Location 307)

Somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” (Location 307)

full of our favorite novels, records, and movies, (Location 315)

memories of places we’ve been, people we’ve met, experiences we’ve accumulated. (Location 316)

The reading feeds the writing, which feeds the reading. (Location 320)

“Making books has always felt very connected to my bookselling experience, that of wanting to draw people’s attention to things that I liked, to shape things that I liked into new shapes.” (Location 321)

Before we’re ready to take the leap of sharing our own work with the world, we can share our tastes in the work of others. (Location 326)

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? What sites do you visit on the Internet? What music do you listen to? What movies do you see? Do you look at art? What do you collect? What’s inside your scrapbook? (Location 327)

What do you pin to the corkboard above your desk? What do you stick on your refrigerator? Who’s done work that you admire? Who do you steal ideas from? Do you have any heroes? Who do you follow online? Who are the practitioners you look up to in your field? (Location 329)

“You’re only as good as your record collection.” (Location 333)

“Dumpster diving” is one of the jobs of the artist—finding the treasure in other people’s trash, sifting through the debris of our culture, paying attention to the stuff that everyone else is ignoring, and taking inspiration from the stuff that people have tossed aside for whatever reasons. (Location 342)

All it takes to uncover hidden gems is a clear eye, an open mind, and a willingness to search for inspiration in places other people aren’t willing or able to go. (Location 346)

When you share your taste and your influences, have the guts to own all of it. (Location 352)

Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too. (Location 354)

You should always share the work of others as if it were your own, treating it with respect and care. (Location 359)

Attribution is about putting little museum labels next to the stuff you share. (Location 365)

It’s always good practice to give a shout-out to the people who’ve helped you stumble onto good work and also leave a bread-crumb trail that people you’re sharing with can follow back to the sources of your inspiration. (Location 366)

Online, the most important form of attribution is a hyperlink pointing back to the website of the creator of (Location 370)

Don’t share things you can’t properly credit. Find the right credit, or don’t share. (Location 374)

“Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.” (Location 391)

Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it. (Location 399)

Personal stories can make the complex more tangible, spark associations, and offer entry into things that might otherwise leave one cold.” (Location 403)

Your work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. (Location 405)

Every email you send, every text, every conversation, every blog comment, every tweet, every photo, every video—they’re all bits and pieces of a multimedia narrative you’re constantly constructing. (Location 406)

The most important part of a story is its structure. A good story structure is tidy, sturdy, and logical. (Location 413)

“Once upon a time, there was _____. Every day, _____. One day, _____. Because of that, _____. Because of that, _____. Until finally, _____.” (Location 419)

You get a great idea, you go through the hard work of executing the idea, and then you release the idea out into the world, coming to a win, lose, or draw. (Location 424)

Every client presentation, every personal essay, every cover letter, every fund-raising request—they’re all pitches. They’re stories with the endings chopped off. (Location 430)

The first act is the past, the second act is the present, and the (Location 431)

always keep your audience in mind. Speak to them directly in plain language. Value their time. Be brief. Learn to speak. Learn (Location 436)

to write. Use spell-check. You’re never “keeping it real” with your lack of proofreading and punctuation, you’re keeping it unintelligible. (Location 437)

Your stories will get better the more you tell them. (Location 440)

Teaching doesn’t mean instant competition. (Location 485)

Think about what you can share from your process that would inform the people you’re trying to reach. (Location 495)

The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. (Location 497)

Share your reading list. (Location 498)

Point to helpful reference materials. (Location 498)

Create some tutorials and post them online. Use pictures, words, and video. Take people step-by-step through part of your process. (Location 498)

“Make people better at something they want to be better at.” (Location 499)

Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. (Location 500)

When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. (Location 500)

Best of all, when you share your knowledge and your work with others, you receive an education in return. (Location 502)

He said that having his work out in the world was “a free education that goes on for a lifetime.” (Location 505)

As every writer knows, if you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first. (Location 511)

No matter how famous they get, the forward-thinking artists of today aren’t just looking for fans or passive consumers of their work, they’re looking for potential collaborators, or co-conspirators. (Location 521)

These artists acknowledge that good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that the experience of art is always a two-way street, incomplete without feedback. (Location 523)

If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector. (Location 533)

If you want to get, you have to give. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice. Shut up and listen once in a while. (Location 534)

“What you want is to follow and be followed by human beings who care about issues you care about. This thing we make together. (Location 537)

This thing is about hearts and minds, not eyeballs.” (Location 538)

If you want followers, be someone worth following. (Location 542)

“Have you tried making yourself a more interesting person?” (Location 543)

But who you know is largely dependent on who you are and what you do, and the people you know can’t do anything for you if you’re not doing good work. (Location 547)

“being good at things is the only thing that earns you clout or connections.” (Location 550)

Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple. (Location 551)

Note: The main moto

The Vampire Test. It’s a simple way to know who you should let in and out of your life. (Location 563)

If, after hanging out with someone you feel worn out and depleted, that person is a vampire. (Location 564)

There will only be a handful or so of them, but they’re so, so important. Do what you can to nurture your relationships (Location 581)

with these people. Sing their praises to the universe. Invite them to collaborate. Show them work before you show anybody else. (Location 582)

Meeting people online is awesome, but turning them into IRL friends is even better. (Location 600)

When you put your work out into the world, you have to be ready for the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Location 608)

Fear is often just the imagination taking a wrong turn. (Location 610)

The more criticism you take, the more you realize (Location 615)

Every piece of criticism is an opportunity for new work. (Location 616)

Having your work hated by certain people is a badge of honor. (Location 618)

If you spend your life avoiding (Location 620)

vulnerability, you and your work will never truly connect with other people. (Location 621)

“The trick is not caring what EVERYBODY thinks of you and just caring about what the RIGHT people think of you.” (Location 624)

Note: Awesome

The first step in evaluating feedback is sizing up who it came from. You want feedback from people who care about you and what you do. (Location 626)

Because, of course, the worst troll is the one that lives in your head. (Location 636)

“If someone took a dump in your living room, you wouldn’t let it sit there, would you?” (Location 640)

Nasty comments are the same—they should be scooped up and thrown in the trash. (Location 641)

When an audience starts gathering for the work that you’re freely putting into the world, you might eventually want to take the leap of turning them into patrons. (Location 664)

The easiest way to do this is to simply ask for donations: (Location 665)

Put a little virtual tip jar or a donate now button on your website. (Location 665)

“Like this? Buy me a coffee.” (Location 666)

It’s important to note that these platforms work best when you’ve already gathered a group of people who are into what you do. (Location 669)

when people become patrons, they feel, not altogether wrongly, that they should have some say in how their money is being used. (Location 672)

Instead of having a donate now button on my website, I have buy now and hire me buttons. (Location 674)

Whether you ask for donations, crowdfund, or sell your products or services, asking for money in return for your work is a leap you want to take only when you feel confident that you’re putting work out into the world that you think is truly worth something. (Location 682)

Don’t be afraid to charge for your work, but put a price on it that you think is fair. (Location 683)

Even if you don’t have anything to sell right now, you should always be collecting email addresses from people who come across your work and want to stay in touch. Why email? You’ll notice (Location 685)

I know people who run multimillion-dollar businesses off of their mailing lists. (Location 690)

The model is very simple: They give away great stuff on their sites, they collect emails, and then when they have something remarkable to share or sell, they send an email. (Location 690)

Be clear about what they can expect, whether you’ll be sending daily, monthly, or infrequent updates. (Location 694)

Never ever add someone’s email address to your mailing list without her permission. (Location 694)

The people who sign up for your list will be some of your biggest supporters, just by the simple fact that they signed up for the potential to be spammed by you. (Location 696)

Build your list and treat it with respect. (Location 697)

“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” —Walt Disney Some awful people use the term sellout to include any artist who dares to have any ambition whatsoever. (Location 699)

“The real risk is in not changing,” (Location 708)

“I have to feel that I’m after something. If I make money, fine. But I’d rather be striving. It’s the striving, man, it’s that I want.” (Location 708)

Be ambitious. Keep yourself busy. Think bigger. Expand your audience. (Location 709)

If an opportunity comes along that will allow you to do more of the kind of work you want to do, say Yes. If an opportunity comes along that would mean more money, but less of the kind of work you want to do, say No. (Location 711)

When you have success, it’s important to use any dough, clout, or platform you’ve acquired to help along the work of the people who’ve helped you get to where you are. (Location 715)

Extol your teachers, your mentors, your heroes, your influences, your peers, and your fans. (Location 716)

Give them a chance to share their own work. Throw opportunities their way. (Location 717)

The way I get over my guilt about not answering email is to hold office hours. (Location 723)

You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done. (Location 725)

“Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck—and with luck comes obligation. (Location 727)

You owe a debt, and not just to your gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.” (Location 727)

“If you want a happy ending,” actor Orson Welles wrote, “that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” (Location 731)

Thankfully, we can all take practical sabbaticals—daily, weekly, or monthly breaks where we walk away from our work completely. (Location 780)

“If you never go to work, you never get to leave work.” (Location 789)

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough,” writes author Alain de Botton. (Location 795)

When you throw out old work, what you’re really doing is making room for new work. (Location 800)

“Not because I’ve figured everything out, I’ve just figured out what I can’t figure out and I need to tear it down and start over again.” (Location 803)

Think of it as beginning again. Go back to chapter one—literally!—and become an amateur. (Location 806)

Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning it out in the open. (Location 807)

Document your progress and share as you go so that others can learn along with you. (Location 808)

Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you. (Location 808)