Putting yourself out there is how you get noticed

I chose this book as my first review since it helped push me to creating this site as well as getting my  further in the public domain.

Creatives often find trouble creating while at the same time getting their work seen. Or worse balancing the idea of sellout vs just creating what they feel like. What Austin Kleon attempts in Show Your Work is to teach a way of making your work discoverable while you focus on getting really good at what you do.

Though I work online, I’ve always had some discomfort with sharing too much online. This is a book for people like me. The author says “it’s for people who hate the idea of self promotion”.  Also for people who haven’t realized that most of us are amateurs. And there’s nothing wrong with being reveled as one:

We’re all terrified of being revealed as amateurs, but in fact, today it is the amateur – the enthusiast who pursues her work in the spirit of love (in French, the word means ‘lover’), regardless of the potential for fame, money, or career – who often has the advantage over the professional. Because they have so little to lose, amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims. Sometimes, in the process of doing things in an unprofessional way, they make new discoveries. “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” said Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki. “In the expert’s mind, there are a few.”
In every chapter there are examples of instances where geniuses we thought became successful solely on the merits of their work, were actually helped along by “showing their work” in one way or another. They also became good at what they do by actually doing it. In the same way if you are to find your voice, you need to use it. Rings true with the saying “If you wait until you’re ready, it’s almost certainly too late.”

start of a chapter from Show Your Work
It sounds extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. We all have the opportunity to use our voices, to have our say, but so many of us are wasting it. If you want people to know about what you do and the things you care about, you have to share.
And if you are scared to be embarrassed, or to make a mistake:

Steve Jobs on how looming death allowed him to do what is important.

Another great chapter touches on taking people behind the scenes of your work. Because we don’t want to be seen as tacky or inept we shy away from showing the process. And that is one of the reasons why myths like the overnight success exist.

A lot of people are so used to just seeing the outcome of work. They never see the side of the work you go through to produce the outcome.
Michael Jackson

I like how Michael Jackson put it. Most portfolios show outcome of work and not the work itself. the work is what goes into achieving the outcome.  Showing the process also allow the audience to connect with the outcome. As per Brené Brown:

In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen really seen.
Brené Brown

And then there’s the chapter Share Your Trade Secrets.

The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
Annie Dillard

The funny thing about sharing your trade secrets is that doing so is akin to teaching. And with teaching the more you teach the more you learn. The more you let people in on your work the more interest people will have in your work.

Other than sharing, he touches on the subject of guarding your mental space so you can create. He calls this the vampire test:

If, after hanging out with someone you feel worn out and depleted, that person is a vampire. If after hanging out with someone you still feel full of energy, that person is not a vampire. Of course, the vampire test works on many things in our lives,
not just people — you can apply it to jobs, hobbies, places, etc.
Against being a ‘sellout’

Show Your Work is a great book to read, especially if you have a shitty resume like myself. There’s nothing shameful about self-promotion. Finding ways to do what you love, share it, and make a living from it is in my opinion what life is about.

Thanks for following along. Hit me up in the comments let me know what you think.


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