Creative Living Book Club: "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon
So, for the past year or so, I've been sharing amazing books as I've been discovering them myself (read: quoting them like crazy to every single coffee, lunch, and ice cream date I have). Today marks the first time I've shared the book I'm reading in advance with you as part of my new creative living book club.
If you had a chance to pick up "Show Your Work"by Austin Kleon - today's book - I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments here or on Facebook. Would love to hear what you have to add to the discussion about it. For those who haven't read it, not sure I could really spoil it so much as tell you some great things to check out about it. I also recommend everyone check out this awesome podcast I just listened to with Austin discussing the book and its concepts further.
So anyway. I personally couldn't wait to read "Show Your Work: 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered"as it's Austin Kleon's sequel to "Steal Like An Artist: 10 things nobody ever told you about creativity."If I've ever been obsessed with a book before, it's Steal. I've written about it multipletimes here, brought it as my thing to my Favorite Things Party last March, bought it for multiple friends and co-workers, and seriously thought about carrying an extra copy with me because I find myself bringing up aspects of it in conversation at least once a month. Not sure if it's that good for everyone, but it has been that good for me. You can read more here about why, but now onto Show.
Now having read it, I can't say it's as impactful as Steal was on me - at least not yet - but I still really loved it and have been turning over the concepts of the book in my head. Here are the things that really landed with me:
- The Notion that "You Don't Have to Be a Genius"
Austin spends a lot of time in this chapter taking some of the pressure off the expectations that to create great work or be famous, you have to be a genius. He does this in many ways, namely by introducing the concept of "scenius" - the idea that many voices - your many influences and your tribe - creative a collective genius, from which great things come. Another reason I've been percolating on this is actually thanks to a Ted Talk I watched recently on Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love." Here it is below because it's that good and so fascinating about the notion of genius and the pressure to perform, especially after you've had a great success.
- Share Something Small Everyday aka A Daily Dispatch
One of the chapters focuses on the importance of sharing things that you love, relate to what you do, and the elements that make up your work (hence the title) and doing it on a daily basis. I've been really trying to take this advice to heart because I think there's something to showing your curves, showing the details and the work that goes into an invitation or business branding. It's not all about the finished product, there's something to share and be learned in the process of it all. Austin later gets into how to make sure this "daily dispatch" doesn't take the form of human spam - and that's what I've also spent time considering - how to share what I do in a way that's interesting, opt-in, and engaging/useful to others.
- Teach What You Know
This, to me, seems like a riff of what Austin talks about in Steal in the chapter - Write the book you want to read. And I love it, because it speaks to being authentic. Start with what you know. Teach what you know. I've always had a heart for teaching and mentoring and can feel that pulling at me as I continue to learn so much on my own creative life journey. This chapter had me thinking it may be time to do more of what scares me, like actually speaking about anniemade, Greatest Story, and the stuff I know - the stuff I know so far anyway. Lately, the litmus test for me has been "Does it terrify me and really interest me?" If the answer is "yes," I kind of know I have to go for it - somehow. Stay tuned.
- The Vampire Test
I won't share the full bit here, but Austin includes a really interesting aside about what to keep in mind when building your tribe - the community of people you spend your time with. The basic idea is that a vampire is a person or thing that drains your energy and makes you feel like total crap after you spend time with them/it. And the thought, that I've come to agree with him on, is that there is no cure for vampirism - just avoid them at all costs and don't invite them in. I'd heard about something like this with people, but love how Austin extended it to obligations. If there's organizations or things you do in your life that leave you feeling awful, as Elsa says, let them go.
What are the things you got out of it? Have you also read Steal? Do you have any recommendations for the next book? Would love to know. Thanks for joining me on this one!
If you want to check out the series, all links thus far are below:
“168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think” by Laura Vanderkam / “Love Does” by Bob Goff / “The Power of Starting Something Stupid” by Richie Norton / “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon / "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon / “Do Cool Sh*t” by Miki Agrawal/ “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story” by Donald Miller / “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey