Advice for myself: "Share your work."
Sometimes I give people advice. Sometimes they’ve even asked me for it. Sometimes they’ve just said something, and an idea comes to me, and I share it. It sounds like I’m giving advice. Maybe I am. Or perhaps It’s just like I said.
Sometimes, when I give advice or say what comes, I listen to what I’m saying or writing.
I would do well to do it more often.
Even when what I say is intended for someone else, it’s also meant for me.
Last night I started to write something to a friend, and I realized what I was writing was for me.
It might be helpful for you (my friend) and you (anyone else) and you (Future Me.)
Share your work
“Show your work” is the name of a book by Austin Kleon. I’d recommended it to everyone I talked to over the weeks after I read about it. I even followed my advice and read it.
But I never followed Austin Kleon’s advice and showed my work.
Then the other day, I read this:
If you share a physical possession, you do divide its ownership. If you share an idea, however, you do not lessen it. All of it is still yours although all of it has been given away. Further, if the one to whom you give it accepts it as his, he reinforces it in your mind and thus increases it. (ACIM, T-5.I.1:10-13)
Don’t show your work, I thought, share it.
Austin Kleon said that, but I wasn’t listening.
So how do I go about sharing my work?
The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others. (p. 16)
I’m always learning new things. And Kleon says:
Be open, share imperfect and unfinished work (p. 33).
Wow! I’ve got plenty of imperfect and unfinished work to share. But why share it?
The act of sharing is one of generosity—you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen. (p. 34).
Generosity. That makes sense. How generous?
You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.(p. 91).
Alright, Austin. I’m sold. I’ll share stuff that’s imperfect and unfinished. Like this post. Which can always get better. And better. And never. be shared.
So here’s how he says to do it:
Become a documentarian of what you do. (p 26)
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. (p 27)
There’s plenty of material:
Every email you send, every text, every conversation, every blog comment, every tweet, every photo, every video—they’re all bits and pieces of a multimedia narrative you’re constantly constructing. (p. 53).
Some of the long emails I’ve written are worth sharing with more people than just the one to whom I wrote it—likewise some of my chat conversations.
And here’s the process:
Once a day, after you’ve done your day’s work, go back to your documentation and find one little piece of your process that you can share. (p 29)
That sounds reasonable and doable. And I’m going to start with this.
Maybe you think this post is worthwhile, and you want to share it, too. If so, here’s a handy way to do it.
And maybe you want to subscribe and see what comes next.
I want to add my thanks for sharing this... another acquaintance here on Substack wrote his review of that same book a bit back! (haven't finished reading it. tell me if you want to see it)
Thought of this post when I saw "Austin Kleon and Rob Walker discuss curiosity"! Hey, that's the "Show your work" guy!
Link here: https://austinkleon.com/2021/08/03/rob-walker-on-curiosity/
Hoping to "muscle up" to having the courage to do more of this, too!
"It sounds like I’m giving advice. Maybe I am. Or perhaps It’s just like I said."
First of all, you are brilliant and I enjoyed reading this post very much! It reminded me of a line in the movie "Alice in Wonderland" (1951):
Alice: "But that’s just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it. That explains the trouble that I’m always in."
Also, this quote from Austin Kleon is profound: "The act of sharing is one of generosity—you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen." (p. 34)
Your post was certainly both helpful and entertaining, so thank you for your generosity! I'm trying to do the same (be helpful & entertaining) with "moviewise: Life Lessons From Movies."