Thoughts on Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

The book "Show Your Work!"

I really enjoyed this book. It was short and to the point. Kleon said what he needed to say and moved on - rare in the personal development/business book genre. Usually, authors beat you over the head with endless examples or reiterating the same point repeatedly. It also had a fresh perspective that I hadn’t come across in other books and blogs. This book actually inspired me to start blogging again on rachsmith.com.

I’ve blogged in the past, but they were how-to/tutorial style pieces on front-end/creative code. That sort of writing is difficult and time-consuming. I felt pressure to make sure everything was “right” lest I invite corrections from every man on the internet who codes. When I moved home to Australia, bought a house and had a baby, coding outside of my day job wasn’t something I was super passionate about anymore. As I figured the audience I had established from speaking, CodePen and Twitter were only interested in that subject, I stopped writing altogether.

Show Your Work helped me consider that:

  • you don’t need to be the expert on a subject to share about it, people relate better to vulnerability and imperfection anyway
  • frequency and consistency are more important than perfection
  • sharing the process can be more valuable than sharing the final product

My favourite takeaway from the book is that as long as you share the things you are interested in, you will attract people interested in those things. I want to write about dev and work-related stuff. I also want to share my other interests, like parenting, wellbeing, personal productivity and household management. Whether people want to read it, I’m less concerned about. But if I share what I’m in to, perhaps I’ll connect with someone who is into those things too.

From Kleon:

“When you find things you genuinely enjoy, don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about it. Don’t feel guilty about the pleasure you take in the things you enjoy. Celebrate them. When you share your taste and your influences, have the guts to own all of it. Don’t give in to the pressure to self-edit too much. Don’t be the lame guys at the record store arguing over who’s the more “authentic” punk rock band. Don’t try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too.”

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