The book itself is small (6×6 inches) but packed with Kleon’s advice on sharing work in progress and connecting with like-minded people. Given the fact that he’s a New York Times bestselling author and successful speaker on creativity, he knows what he’s talking about. The book lays out ten principles for sharing work, interspersing its primary content with quotes, illustrations, pictures, and his blackout poetry (newspaper pages blacked out except for key words/phrases).
It’s inspiring, but more importantly, it’s actionable. Without prescribing specific courses of action, he talks about how to develop your story, stay motivated, decide what to share on social media, interact with people online, take care of yourself, and treat your creativity like a business. And after making a point or sharing an example, he moves right on to the next concept instead of belaboring it.
For example, his third principle, “Share something small every day,” has a section called “Turn your flow into stock.” This one in particular stood out to me. He talks about Robin Sloan adapting the economic concept of “stock and flow” as a metaphor for media. Flow is more ephemeral, like social media posts, while stock lasts longer and is more likely to attract an audience that will also last. Kleon goes on to explain how flow can feed into and offer direction for stock, offering this book as a perfect example of this. That point made, he jumps into the next section.
I’ve read the book four times and still feel like I get something new on each readthrough. But despite the amount of content, it never feels overwhelming. His writing style is super accessible, and the design makes it apparent that he treated it like another piece of art in his portfolio. As much as it can be read in one sustained session, the short sections comprising each chapter also lend themselves to quick bursts for readers looking for a small jolt of inspiration.
Hopefully you’re convinced by this point. No matter where you are along your creativity journey, I think Show Your Work! has something to offer.