Show Your Work!

“For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed.” – Honore de Balzac

Austin Kleon has just written another charming, little, square (6” x 6”) book on creativity in the fashion of his bestseller, Steal Like An Artist. (I wrote about it in July 2012.) His latest effort is called Show Your Work!. To use a baseball analogy, for me, Steal Like An Artist is a homerun while Show Your Work! gets tagged out on the way to second base. It felt like a bunch of blogs (which he admits to near the end of the book) cobbled together under ten headings (the magic number from his last book). And while it didn’t inspire me or reveal much I didn’t already know, the Amazon reviews indicate there are multitudes who found the book insightful. Perhaps you will too, so check it out. Below are a few takeaways from his chapter titled “Stick Around.”

Show Your Work

Every career is full of ups and downs, and just like with stories, when you’re in the middle of living out your life and career, you don’t know whether you’re up or down or what’s about to happen next. That’s why the people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around long enough.

“Work is never finished, only abandoned.” – Paul Valéry

Therefore, never give up! Every day, just go about your work. You can’t count on success; you can only leave open the possibility for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.

“We work because it’s a chain reaction, each subject leads to the next.” – Charles Eames

To avoid stalling out, it’s important to never lose momentum in your work. It may help to end each day with some aspect of your current project unfinished. Ernest Hemingway would stop in the middle of a sentence so he would have a starting point the following morning. And instead of taking a break between projects, use the end of one project as a springboard into the next one. Ask yourself what you might have missed or what you could have done better … then jump right into the next project.

Adapted from Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon