‘Show your Work’ By Austin Kleon

I’ve recently rekindled my interest in watching my favourite productivity YouTuber, Ali Abdaal. He consistently recommends a book to his followers, and it’s apparent that he’s deeply passionate about it, keeping multiple copies on hand to share with his friends when they visit his house. So this really made me think that this book must be really special so I decided to give the book a try.

That book is called ‘Show Your Work’ and it is about how to build an audience by sharing your work with others. It has actually been incredible to read as I’ve learned so much from it and the best thing is ….. there is no filler so you can finish the book in a few hours as it’s only 150 pages long. So here are the 5 most valuable takeaways I got from the book.

1) You Don’t Have to Be a Genius

Creativity is not where a genius suddenly has an epiphany and decides to spend all his time alone working on something revolutionary. If you look back closely at history, many of the people who we think of as lone geniuses were actually part of “a whole scene of people who were supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas, and contributing ideas.

Creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.

2) Be an Amateur

Amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims.

They are the enthusiast who pursues their work in the spirit of love regardless of the potential for fame, money, or career—who often has the advantage over the professional. Writer David Foster Wallace said that he thought good nonfiction was a chance to “watch somebody reasonably bright but also reasonably average pay far closer attention and think at far more length about all sorts of different stuff than most of us have a chance to in our daily lives.” Amateurs fit the same bill: They’re just regular people who get obsessed by something and spend a ton of time thinking out loud about it.

3) Document all the work you do

Become a documentarian of what you do. Start a work journal: Write your thoughts down in a notebook, or speak them into an audio recorder. Keep a scrapbook. Take a lot of photographs of your work at different stages in your process. Shoot video of you working. This isn’t about making art, it’s about simply keeping track of what’s going on around you. Take advantage of all the cheap, easy tools at your disposal—these days, most of us carry a fully functional multimedia studio around in our smartphones. Whether you share it or not, documenting and recording your process as you go along has its own rewards: You’ll start to see the work you’re doing more clearly and feel like you’re making progress. And when you’re ready to share, you’ll have a surplus of material to choose from

4) Teach What You Know

The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to helpful reference materials. Create some tutorials and post them online. Use pictures, words, and videos. Take people step-by-step through part of your process. As blogger Kathy Sierra says, “Make people better at something they want to be better at.”

Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. People feel closer to your work because you’re letting them in on what you know.

5) Turn Your Flow Into Stock

Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people you exist.

Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.

Kleon says the magic formula is to maintain your flow while working on your stock in the background. ‘In my experience, your stock is best made by collecting, organizing, and expanding upon your flow’

Once you make sharing part of your daily routine, you’ll notice themes and trends emerging in what you share. You’ll find patterns in your flow. When you detect these patterns, you can start gathering these bits and pieces and turn them into something bigger and more substantial.


“Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon offers valuable insights on building an audience through sharing your creative journey. Key takeaways include embracing collaboration over lone genius, being an enthusiastic amateur, documenting your process, teaching others, and maintaining a consistent flow while working on substantial projects (stock). By following these principles, we can all aim to make a meaningful impact with my creative endeavors.

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