Before I read Show Your Work!, I used to think of self-promotion as something that was dirty and unwholesome. I was afraid of annoying people with too many updates and thought that I might come across as indulgent or arrogant if I posted too much about what I did.
But this guidebook was written for “people who hate the very idea of self-promotion”. Reading it has dramatically changed my perception and I now view self-promotion as simply sharing what you do – thinking of it in this way makes it seem less unsavoury somehow! In fact, sharing what you do – with regards to your work, thoughts and ideas – is really just being transparent about who you are as a person.
While reading Show Your Work!, I made key notes that I will definitely refer back to in the future. If you are someone who struggles to self-promote or have trouble speaking about what you do, then I highly advise you to check out this book. It is packed full of practical advice and really does help to shift your perception. The main lessons I learned from it are as follows:
- Share something small every day, whether it be something that inspired you or an idea that you had. Anything from your creative process that might be insightful or interesting to others.
- Document everything that you do. Take photos, keep a work journal etc, so that you have a wellspring of material to draw upon when blogging or posting updates.
- Focus on your work and get good at what you do. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to gain followers or network. People will come to you if you are good at your craft.
- Don’t hoard your ideas. Post about what you’ve learned and help your fellow creatives, encouraging support and collaboration.
- How to deal with the dreaded question: “So what do you do?”
- Appreciate your guilty pleasures (i.e. that TV show that everyone else thinks is lame) because maybe it will lead to something that inspires/influences your work.
- The vampire test. If something drains your energy, cast it out of your life. Keep the things that boost your energy.
There are so many other things that I learned too. There was also a lot that I already knew deep down, but I just needed some reassurance and encouragement. It is precisely the book that I needed to read and I am enjoying incorporating its methods and techniques into my life. Thank you, Austin Kleon, for a fantastic guidebook!
If you wish to check it out further, then click here: http://austinkleon.com/show-your-work/
For me, writing is a linear process. I cannot jump ahead and write future scenes if I’m stuck because the unfolding of a story is so organic that unexpected things happen along the way. New characters can come into the fold, the plot may take a different direction or some scenes may no longer feel necessary. None of this may happen if you begin to time-travel.
Of course, writers are the creators of their own worlds and ultimately can time-travel if they want to (indeed, it may be part of the plot). But from experience, I have found that I never fully stick to my plan as my story comes to life on the page.
I tend to stay true to the main essence of the plot, but often the best parts of my prose come from nowhere. So travelling from A to B, from beginning to end, is the way that I operate. No chopping or changing, no jumping ahead to future scenes, just staying there with my characters from the first page to the very last.
I recently watched Joy, the film about the inventor of the miracle mop, which was very inspiring indeed. All such success stories serve to demonstrate that you should always persevere and never give up, for the realisation of your goals cannot happen without constant drive.
What really grabbed me about Joy’s story is that her creativity was suppressed for seventeen years, crushed and stifled by all the commitments and other things going on in her life. I can relate to this creative hibernation because I did not write for many years, but my creativity kept finding other ways to express itself, until I eventually plucked up the courage to write my first proper book.
At the beginning of the film, you get to see how bright and creative Joy was as a child. Indeed, most children are born with such fearless wonder and playfulness, but a lot of us lose this magic as we enter adulthood. It is tragic when someone’s spirit is crushed by the real world, as this person cannot shine as brightly as they would like, nor be who they want to be.
But it is never too late to change things! Joy tapped back into her creative reserves after seventeen years and overcame great odds to achieve her dreams.
Watching this film made me think… if Joy could overcome such adversity, then so can I – and so can you!
For as long as you breathe, you have the opportunity to turn things around. Don’t let your spirit get crushed by life. Don’t lose the magic!
The other day, a car drove past me and one of its tires unexpectedly blew out. The disgruntled driver slowly pulled over and sat there in astonishment.
This incident reminded me of the fragility of life. You can be cruising along quite happily until something unexpected comes along and knocks the wind out of your sails. Indeed, the opposite can happen where you’re just muddling along and a great gust of wind lifts your spirits and elevates you to new heights.
Nothing in life is certain and things are forever in a state of flux. Nothing remains static, so we must embrace change and dance with the flow of life, otherwise we will suffer.
Many people suffer because they resist change or cannot let go of the thing that punctured their tire. But every time that something knocks us off the road, we must make repairs and get back into motion, otherwise we will rust and decay and end up on the scrapheap.
Life is fragile and unpredictable, but this should not discourage us. Each of us are on a special journey, with pitfalls and delights that lie ahead, obscured by the landscape of time, but that is what’s truly exciting in my opinion.
Wherever your road leads, no matter what obstacles you face, keep on chugging along and don’t forget to appreciate the view.