Books, Reviews

A must-read for writers, artists & other humans – my review of AUSTIN KLEON’S ‘Show Your Work’


Austin Kleon’s ‘Show Your Work – 10 Ways To Share Your Creativity And Get Discovered’ is a book that makes me want to shout from the social media rooftops: “Everyone! Read this book!”. Why? Because ‘Show Your Work’ made me feel energized, encouraged, and inspired – both as a (more or less) creative human being, and as a writer and blogger in the age of the ever-present internet.

Just like the title says, this book offers great practical tips on how to share your work online, in order to connect with others who might enjoy your work (and whose work you might enjoy in turn). But ‘Show Your Work’ is not just a handy and easy-to-read handbook, it’s something more than that, because Kleon doesn’t just tell you what to do, he also helps you understand how to think about, and how to approach the sometimes challenging existence of being a creative person in the age of social media. So really, it’s a handbook, and an endlessly quotable source of inspiration at the same time.

The ten chapter headings give you a great idea of what the book covers:

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

One of the many highlights of this book for me, are Kleon’s thoughts on how and why you should share your work online. He offers some great, concrete tips on what to share during various stages of your creative process:  from sharing influences and inspiration, to showing off works in progress, to “telling stories about how people are interacting with your work”. What I particularly like is his emphasis on how all this sharing isn’t just a gimmick to sell your work and establish your “brand”, but that it also offers other benefits: for example, it’s a way to connect with others, to find joy in sharing what you love, and to get feedback and inspiration.

Another required-reading part of this book is Kleon’s run-through of how to share other people’s work online, and his emphasis on always giving proper credit when you do so: it’s something anyone who uses social media will benefit from reading.

‘Show Your Work’ has a practical and positive vibe, and Kleon’s writing is witty and engaging, making the book a quick, easy, and inspiring read. I’d recommend it to anyone who uses social media, and who is engaged in writing, music, or any other creative and artistic endeavour.

Finally, here are three memorable quotes from this (truly) endlessly quotable book:

  • “If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community. – – – If you want to be noticed, you have to notice. Shut up and listen once in a while.”
  • “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.”
  • “Extol your teachers, your mentors, your heroes, your influences, your peers, and your fans. Give them a chance to share their own work. Throw opportunities their way.”

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