Show Your Work
Last week I read a great book by Austin Kleon, it’s called Show Your Work! This was the book that shot me into action and made me set up this blog and start sharing about the stuff I’m doing everyday and what I’m passionate about. It’s a short book you can finish in a few hours but it has great ideas to build a network of like-minded people.
And worst-case scenario, if nobody reads it, You’ll have a great life/developer/career journal to look back on and learn from yourself and past mistakes. We as developers often forget, there is just so much information we need to process on a daily basis, take advantage of this and write it down. Compose it into a readable format for other people and your future self. I think we can be surprised by what the outcomes might be.
The following are some notes I took from the book, be sure to give it a read if you find it inspiring or useful!
Instead of maintaining absolute secrecy and hoarding work, be open about what you’re working on, and be consistently posting bits and pieces of your work, ideas, and what you’re learning online. Instead of wasting time “networking,” take advantage of the network.
The amateur has the advantage over the professional because they have nothing to lose. Amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. In the process of doing things unprofessionally they make new discoveries.
“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, In the expert’s mind, there are few.”
“On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.” Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.
The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning us all into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.
When Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke was asked what he thought his greatest strength was, he answered, “That I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Make a commitment to learning in front of others. Find a scenius, pay attention to what others are sharing, and then start taking note of what they’re not sharing. Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first. Don’t worry, for now, about how you’ll make money or a career off it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.
It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.
“By putting things out there, consistently, you can form a relationship with your customers. It allows them to see the person behind the products.” Audiences not only want to stumble across great work, but they, too, long to be creative and part of the creative process. By letting go of our egos and sharing our process, we allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work, which helps us move more of our product.
Become a documentarian of what you do.
- Start a work journal / blog
- Start a YouTube channel
- Shoot video of you working / stream stuff on Twitch.
This is all about keeping track what is going around you.
Overnight success is a myth. It takes decades of hard work. Focus on the days instead of the years. Compound small incremental pieces of work into something huge. What do you want to have accomplished in a year or two? Start today!
Share something about your daily progress, your systems, problems you came across or just thinking out loud. Even if nobody will ever read it, it still will be tremendously valuable to yourself.
“If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.”—Kenneth Goldsmith