Austin Kleon 'Show Your Work' Book Review

I came across this book from being lured into watching a clickbait titled YouTube video, "3 books that changed my life" by content creator, Ali Abdaal.

The book only took around an hour to read but was highly enjoyable and provided very valuable reasons why there is no reason to not share your passions with people, leading to people becoming interested in you and this could lead to monetisation too. Austin debunks the myth that you need to be a genius, rich or famous in order to publish content. He actually encourages to be an amateur.

An amateur meaning one who pursues their work out of love regardless of fame.

You have nothing to lose so why not give it a good go. He references Shunryu Suzuki (who's book I also recommend, Zen Mind, The Beginners Mind) and he says, "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities.

In the experts mind, there are few". Essentially, try a host of new things/approaches to showing your work online and keep at it, one will stick and continue to work on it.

He reminds the reader (me in this case) in the friendliest manor that one day, you will be dead.

And thinking about this allows you to gain a better perspective on showing your work. Reading obituaries is a great way Austin believes, to be reminded on the fragility of life.

My take from reading this chapter was realising you are going to die gives you an extra push to be proactive as opposed to reactive and truly go out there and claim the life of your dreams.

This involves hard work, determination and adapting to current circumstances but ultimately, to live a fulfilled life you must go out there and make it happen for yourself. Nobody is going to do it for you.

I also loved how Austin describes falling in love with the process over the product. I have embedded this into my own journey as I enjoy making small daily improvements which I know get me closer to my end goal.

But I am aware that the beauty is in the journey of reaching the goal, not the goals itself. Another chapter I loved was: open up your cabinet of curiosities. Begin to be curious about everything.

It relates to the quote, "to be interesting, be interested". It was a marvellous chapter, allowing the reader to explore infinite different paths through sheer curiosity. The last two chapters I want to discuss are: tell good stories and don't turn into human spam.

Tell good stories was a highly enjoyable chapter. I have read before, that it is not about what happens in the story that matters, it is in how you tell the story that really matters. Austin reveals the importance of having structure in a story to prevent waffling and going off track. He actually provides a basic template to fill in.

"Once upon a time, there was ___. Everyday, ____. One day, ___. Because of that, . Because of that,. Until Finally, _____. I gave this a go and was pleasantly surprised that it worked well. Austin references a framework described by Author John Gardner: "A character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and arrives at a win, lose or draw".

I think this is also a simple yet great way to view plots as it applies to most aspects of life. Now, don't turn into human spam was very eye opening.

Austin refers to human spam as people who basically are only interested in themselves. He stresses that human spam exists everywhere in all professions and walks of life, and plenty of people turn into human spam thus highlighting the importance of being someone worth following.

Don't get held up on how to get more followers etc from online articles, instead publish valuable content which will draw the right hearts to you, instead of eyeballs. Austin says, "follow me back?" is the saddest question on the internet. I agree.


In conclusion, I really enjoyed this short, well written book and would recommend it to anyone. It pushed Ali (YouTuber referenced earlier) to start his own YouTube channel which now has over a million subscribers! The point is, share your work with the world and post valuable content, you will not regret it.

Thank you Austin.

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