Show Your Work!: How to Share Your Creativity with the World - by Austin Kleon

Show Your Work! – by Austin Kleon

How strongly I recommend it: 9/10
See my lists of books for more.

Go to the Amazon page for details.

Highlights

A NEW WAY OF OPERATING

You don’t really find an audience for your work; they find you. But it’s not enough to be good. In order to be found, you have to be findable. I think there’s an easy way of putting your work out there and making it discoverable while you’re focused on getting really good at what you do.
Almost all of the people I look up to and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built sharing into their routine. These people aren’t schmoozing at cocktail parties; they’re too busy for that. They’re cranking away in their studios, their laboratories, or their cubicles, but instead of maintaining absolute secrecy and hoarding their work, they’re open about what they’re working on, and they’re consistently posting bits and pieces of their work, their ideas, and what they’re learning online. Instead of wasting their time “networking,” they’re taking advantage of the network. By generously sharing their ideas and their knowledge, they often gain an audience that they can then leverage when they need it—for fellowship, feedback, or patronage.
Imagine if your next boss didn’t have to read your résumé because he already reads your blog. Imagine being a student and getting your first gig based on a school project you posted online. Imagine losing your job but having a social network of people familiar with your work and ready to help you find a new one. Imagine turning a side project or a hobby into your profession because you had a following that could support you.

1) You Don’t Have To Be a Genius

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. 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.
You Can’t find your voice if you don’t use it

Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you. — Dan Harmon

Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow.
Read obituaries

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.
—Steve Jobs

We’ve all read stories of near-death experiences changing people’s lives. When George Lucas was a teenager, he almost died in a car accident. He decided “every day now is an extra day,” dedicated himself to film, and went on to direct Star Wars. Wayne Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, was 16 when he was held up while working at a Long John Silver’s. “I realized I was going to die,” he says. “And when that gets into your mind . . . it utterly changed me . . . I thought, I’m not going to sit here and wait for things to happen, I’m going to make them happen, and if people think I’m an idiot I don’t care.”
Try it: Start reading the obituaries every morning. Take inspiration from the people who muddled through life before you—they all started out as amateurs, and they got where they were going by making do with what they were given, and having the guts to put themselves out there. Follow their example.

2) Think Process Not Product

Take people behind the scenes

“A lot of people are so used to just seeing the outcome of work. They never see the side of the work you go through to produce the outcome.” —Michael Jackson

This way of thinking is articulated by David Bayles and Ted Orland in their book, Art and Fear: “To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you, and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping the artwork.” An artist is supposed to toil in secrecy, keeping her ideas and her work under lock and key, waiting until she has a magnificent product to show for herself before she tries to connect with an audience. “The private details of artmaking are utterly uninteresting to audiences,” write Bayles and Orland, “because they’re almost never visible—or even knowable—from examining the finished work.”
Process is messy. But human beings are interested in other human beings and what other human beings do. “People really do want to see how the sausage gets made.” That’s how designers Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt put it in their book on entrepreneurship, It Will Be Exhilarating. “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

“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen—really seen.” —Brené Brown

But whatever the nature of your work, there is an art to what you do, and there are people who would be interested in that art, if only you presented it to them in the right way. In fact, sharing your process might actually be most valuable if the products of your work aren’t easily shared, if you’re still in the apprentice stage of your work, if you can’t just slap up a portfolio and call it a day, or if your process doesn’t necessarily lead to tangible finished products.
How can you show your work even when you have nothing to show? The first step is to scoop up the scraps and the residue of your process and shape them into some interesting bit of media that you can share. You have to turn the invisible into something other people can see. “You have to make stuff,” said journalist David Carr when he was asked if he had any advice for students. “No one is going to give a damn about your résumé; they want to see what you have made with your own little fingers.”
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.

3) Share Something Small Every Day

Send out a daily dispatch

“Put yourself, and your work, out there every day, and you’ll start meeting some amazing people.” —Bobby Solomon

Building a substantial body of work takes a long time—a lifetime, really—but thankfully, you don’t need that time all in one big chunk. So forget about decades, forget about years, and forget about months. Focus on days.
The day is the only unit of time that I can really get my head around. Seasons change, weeks are completely human-made, but the day has a rhythm. The sun goes up; the sun goes down. I can handle that.
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. Where you are in your process will determine what that piece is. If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you. If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting-room floor, or write about what you learned. If you have lots of projects out into the world, you can report on how they’re doing—you can tell stories about how people are interacting with your work.
A daily dispatch is even better than a résumé or a portfolio, because it shows what we’re working onright now. When the artist Ze Frank was interviewing job candidates, he complained, “When I ask them to show me work, they show me things from school, or from another job, but I’m more interested in what they did last weekend.” A good daily dispatch is like getting all the DVD extras before a movie comes out—you get to watch deleted scenes and listen to director’s commentary while the movie is being made.
The form of what you share doesn’t matter. Your daily dispatch can be anything you want—a blog post, an email, a tweet, a YouTube video, or some other little bit of media. There’s no one-size-fits-all plan for everybody.
Social media sites are the perfect place to share daily updates. Don’t worry about being on every platform; pick and choose based on what you do and the people you’re trying to reach. Filmmakers hang out on YouTube or Vimeo. Businesspeople, for some strange reason, love LinkedIn. Writers love Twitter. Visual artists tend to like Tumblr, Instagram, or Facebook. The landscape is constantly changing, and new platforms are always popping up . . . and disappearing.
Don’t be afraid to be an early adopter—jump on a new platform and see if there’s something interesting you can do with it. If you can’t find a good use for a platform, feel free to abandon it. Use your creativity. Film critic Tommy Edison, who’s been blind since birth, takes photos of his day-to-day life and posts them to Instagram under @blindfilmcritic. He’s followed by more than 30,000 people!
I like the tagline at dribbble.com: “What are you working on?” Stick to that question and you’ll be good. Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work.
Don’t worry about everything you post being perfect. Science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once said that 90 percent of everything is crap. The same is true of our own work. The trouble is, we don’t always know what’s good and what sucks. That’s why it’s important to get things in front of others and see how they react. “Sometimes you don’t always know what you’ve got,” says artist Wayne White. “It really does need a little social chemistry to make it show itself to you sometimes.”
I like to work while the world is sleeping, and share while the world is at work.

The “So What?” Test

“Make no mistake: This is not your diary. You are not letting it all hang out. You are picking and choosing every single word.” —Dani Shapiro

“Post as though everyone who can read it has the power to fire you.”Be open, share imperfect and unfinished work that you want feedback on, but don’t share absolutely everything. There’s a big, big difference between sharing and over-sharing.
If you’re unsure about whether to share something, let it sit for 24 hours. Put it in a drawer and walk out the door. The next day, take it out and look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?”

Turn your flow into stock

“If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.” —Kenneth Goldsmith

In my experience, your stock is best made by collecting, organizing, and expanding upon your flow. Social media sites function a lot like public notebooks—they’re places where we think out loud, let other people think back at us, then hopefully think some more. But the thing about keeping notebooks is that you have to revisit them in order to make the most out of them. You have to flip back through old ideas to see what you’ve been thinking. 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.

Build a good (domain) name

A blog is the ideal machine for turning flow into stock: One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work. My blog has been my sketchbook, my studio, my gallery, my storefront, and my salon. Absolutely everything good that has happened in my career can be traced back to my blog. My books, my art shows, my speaking gigs, some of my best friendships—they all exist because I have my own little piece of turf on the Internet.
When she was young and starting out, Patti Smith got this advice from William Burroughs: “Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises. Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work . . . and if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.”
The beauty of owning your own turf is that you can do whatever you want with it. Your domain name is your domain. You don’t have to make compromises. Build a good domain name, keep it clean, and eventually it will be its own currency. Whether people show up or they don’t, you’re out there, doing your thing, ready whenever they are.

4) Open Your Cabinet Of Curiosities

Don’t be a hoarded

“The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually, you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. . . . Somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” —Paul Arden

Where do you get your inspiration? What sorts of things do you fill your head with? What do you read? Do you subscribe to anything? What sites do you visit on the Internet? What music do you listen to? What movies do you see? Do you look at art? What do you collect? What’s inside your scrapbook? What do you pin to the corkboard above your desk? What do you stick on your refrigerator? Who’s done work that you admire? Who do you steal ideas from? Do you have any heroes? Who do you follow online? Who are the practitioners you look up to in your field?
Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do—sometimes even more than your own work.

“You’re only as good as your record collection.” —DJ Spooky

No guilty pleasures

We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage, because what makes us unique is the persity and breadth of our influences, the unique ways in which we mix up the parts of culture others have deemed “high” and the “low.”
When you find things you genuinely enjoy, don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about it.
Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too.

“Do what you do best and link to the rest.” —Jeff Jarvis

5) Tell Good Stories

Work doesn’t speak for itself

In their book, Significant Objects, Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker recount an experiment in which they set out to test this hypothesis: “Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.”

“To fake a photograph, all you have to do is change the caption. To fake a painting, change the attribution.” —Errol Morris


Your work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Whether you realize it or not, you’re already telling a story about your work. 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. If you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.

“‘The cat sat on a mat’ is not a story. ‘The cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is a story.” —John le Carré

Structure is everything

“In the first act, you get your hero up a tree. The second act, you throw rocks at him. For the third act, you let him down.” —George Abbott

If you study the structure of stories, you start to see how they work, and once you know how they work, you can then start stealing story structures and filling them in with characters, situations, and settings from your own life.
Most story structures can be traced back to myths and fairy tales. Emma Coats, a former storyboard artist at Pixar, outlined the basic structure of a fairy tale as a kind of Mad Lib that you can fill in with your own elements: “Once upon a time, there was _____. Every day, _____. One day, _____. Because of that, _____. Because of that, _____. Until finally, _____.” Pick your favorite story and try to fill in the blanks. It’s striking how often it works.
You get a great idea, you go through the hard work of executing the idea, and then you release the idea out into the world, coming to a win, lose, or draw. Sometimes the idea succeeds, sometimes it fails, and more often than not, it does nothing at all. This simple formula can be applied to almost any type of work project: There’s the initial problem, the work done to solve the problem, and the solution.
A good pitch is set up in three acts: The first act is the past, the second act is the present, and the third act is the future. The first act is where you’ve been—what you want, how you came to want it, and what you’ve done so far to get it. The second act is where you are now in your work and how you’ve worked hard and used up most of your resources. The third act is where you’re going, and how exactly the person you’re pitching can help you get there. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, this story shape effectively turns your listener into the hero who gets to decide how it ends.
Whether you’re telling a finished or unfinished story, always keep your audience in mind. Speak to them directly in plain language. Value their time. Be brief. Learn to speak. Learn to write. Use spell-check. You’re never “keeping it real” with your lack of proofreading and punctuation, you’re keeping it unintelligible.
Everybody loves a good story, but good storytelling doesn’t come easy to everybody. It’s a skill that takes a lifetime to master. So study the great stories and then go find some of your own. Your stories will get better the more you tell them.

Talk about yourself at parties

“You got to make your case.” —Kanye West

We’ve all been there. You’re standing at a party, enjoying your drink, when a stranger approaches, introduces herself, and asks the dreaded question, “So, what do you do?”
If you happen to be a doctor or a teacher or a lawyer or a plumber, congratulations. You may proceed without caution. For the rest of us, we’re going to need to practice our answers.
Artists have it the worst. If you answer, “I’m a writer,” for example, there’s a very good chance that the next question will be, “Oh, have you published anything?” which is actually a veiled way of asking, “Do you make any money off that?”
The way to get over the awkwardness in these situations is to stop treating them as interrogations, and start treating them as opportunities to connect with somebody by honestly and humbly explaining what it is that you do. You should be able to explain your work to a kindergartner, a senior citizen, and everybody in between. Of course, you always need to keep your audience in mind: The way you explain your work to your buddies at the bar is not the way you explain your work to your mother.
Just because you’re trying to tell a good story about yourself doesn’t mean you’re inventing fiction. Stick to nonfiction. Tell the truth and tell it with dignity and self-respect. If you’re a student, say you’re a student. If you work a day job, say you work a day job. (For years, I said, “By day I’m a web designer, and by night I write poetry.”) If you have a weird hybrid job, say something like, “I’m a writer who draws.” (I stole that bio from the cartoonist Saul Steinberg.) If you’re unemployed, say so, and mention what kind of work you’re looking for. If you’re employed, but you don’t feel good about your job title, ask yourself why that is. Maybe you’re in the wrong line of work, or maybe you’re not doing the work you’re supposed to be doing. (There were many years where answering, “I’m a writer,” felt wrong, because I wasn’t actually writing.) Remember what the author George Orwell wrote: “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.”
Have empathy for your audience. Anticipate blank stares. Be ready for more questions. Answer patiently and politely.
All the same principles apply when you start writing your bio. Bios are not the place to practice your creativity. We all like to think we’re more complex than a two-sentence explanation, but a two-sentence explanation is usually what the world wants from us. Keep it short and sweet.
Strike all the adjectives from your bio. If you take photos, you’re not an “aspiring” photographer, and you’re not an “amazing” photographer, either. You’re a photographer. Don’t get cute. Don’t brag. Just state the facts.
One more thing: Unless you are actually a ninja, a guru, or a rock star, don’t ever use any of those terms in your bio. Ever.

“Whatever we say, we’re always talking about ourselves.” —Alison Bechdel

6) Teach What You Know

Share your trade secrets

In their book, Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson encourage businesses to emulate chefs by out-teaching their competition. “What do you do? What are your ‘recipes’? What’s your ‘cookbook’? What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional?” They encourage businesses to figure out the equivalent of their own cooking show.
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 video. 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.
Best of all, when you share your knowledge and your work with others, you receive an education in return. Author Christopher Hitchens said that the great thing about putting out a book is that “it brings you into contact with people whose opinions you should have canvassed before you ever pressed pen to paper. They write to you. They telephone you. They come to your bookstore events and give you things to read that you should have read already.” He said that having his work out in the world was “a free education that goes on for a lifetime.”

7) Don’t Turn Into Human Spam

Shut up and listen

“When people realize they’re being listened to, they tell you things.” —Richard Ford

If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community. If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector. The writer Blake Butler calls this being an open node. If you want to get, you have to give. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice. Shut up and listen once in a while. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. Don’t turn into human spam. Be an open node.
You want hearts, not eyeballs
If you want followers, be someone worth following. Donald Barthelme supposedly said to one of his students, “Have you tried making yourself a more interesting person?” This seems like a really mean thing to say, unless you think of the word interestingthe way writer Lawrence Weschler does: For him, to be “interest-ing” is to be curious and attentive, and to practice “the continual projection of interest.” To put it more simply: If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.
Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.
Don’t be creepy. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t waste people’s time. Don’t ask too much. And don’t ever ever ask people to follow you. “Follow me back?” is the saddest question on the Internet.

The vampire test

“Whatever excites you, go do it. Whatever drains you, stop doing it.” —Derek Sivers

Brancusi practiced what I call The Vampire Test. It’s a simple way to know who you should let in and out of your life. If, after hanging out with someone you feel worn out and depleted, that person is a vampire. If, after hanging out with someone you still feel full of energy, that person is not a vampire. Of course, The Vampire Test works on many things in our lives, not just people—you can apply it to jobs, hobbies, places, etc.
Vampires cannot be cured. Should you find yourself in the presence of a vampire, be like Brancusi, and banish it from your life forever.

“Part of the act of creating is in discovering your own kind. They are everywhere. But don’t look for them in the wrong places.” —Henry Miller

“You and I will be around a lot longer than Twitter, and nothing substitutes face to face.” —Rob Delaney

8) Learn To Take a Punch

Let’em take their best shot

“I ain’t going to give up. Every time you think I’m one place, I’m going to show up someplace else. I come pre-hated. Take your best shot.” —Cyndi Lauper

Strengthen your neck. The way to be able to take a punch is to practice getting hit a lot. Put out a lot of work. Let people take their best shot at it. Then make even more work and keep putting it out there. The more criticism you take, the more you realize it can’t hurt you.
Roll with the punches. Keep moving. Every piece of criticism is an opportunity for new work. You can’t control what sort of criticism you receive, but you can control how you react to it. Sometimes when people hate something about your work, it’s fun to push that element even further. To make something they’d hate even more. Having your work hated by certain people is a badge of honor.

9) Sell out

Pass around the hat

The easiest way to do this is to simply ask for donations: Put a little virtual tip jar or a donate now button on your website. These links do well with a little bit of human copy, such as “Like this? Buy me a coffee.” This is a very simple transaction, which is the equivalent of a band passing a hat during a gig—if people are digging what you do, they’ll throw a few bucks your way.
If you have work you want to attempt that requires some up-front capital, platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo make it easy to run fund-raising campaigns with tiered rewards for donors. It’s important to note that these platforms work best when you’ve already gathered a group of people who are into what you do. The musician Amanda Palmer has had wild success turning her audience into patrons: After showing her work, sharing her music freely, and cultivating relationships with her fans, she asked for $100,000 from them to help record her next album. They gave her more than a million dollars.
There are certainly some strings attached to crowdfunding—when people become patrons, they feel, not altogether wrongly, that they should have some say in how their money is being used. It’s partly for this reason that my business model is still pretty old-fashioned: I make something and sell it for money. Instead of having a donate now button on my website, I have buy now and hire me buttons. But even though I operate more like a traditional salesman, I do use some of the same tactics as crowdfunders: I try to be open about my process, connect with my audience, and ask them to support me by buying the things I’m selling.
Whether you ask for donations, crowdfund, or sell your products or services, asking for money in return for your work is a leap you want to take only when you feel confident that you’re putting work out into the world that you think is truly worth something. Don’t be afraid to charge for your work, but put a price on it that you think is fair.

Keep a mailing list

Even if you don’t have anything to sell right now, you should always be collecting email addresses from people who come across your work and want to stay in touch. Why email? You’ll notice a pattern with technology—often the most boring and utilitarian technologies are the ones that stick around the longest. Email is decades and decades old, but it’s nowhere close to being dead. Even though almost everybody hates it, everybody has an email address. And unlike RSS and social media feeds, if you send someone an email, it will land in her inbox, and it will come to her attention. She might not open it, but she definitely has to go to the trouble of deleting it.
I know people who run multimillion-dollar businesses off of their mailing lists. The model is very simple: They give away great stuff on their sites, they collect emails, and then when they have something remarkable to share or sell, they send an email. You’d be amazed at how well the model works.
Keep your own list, or get an account with an email newsletter company like MailChimp and put a little sign-up widget on every page of your website. Write a little bit of copy to encourage people to sign up. Be clear about what they can expect, whether you’ll be sending daily, monthly, or infrequent updates. Never ever add someone’s email address to your mailing list without her permission.

Make more work for yourself

“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” —Walt Disney

Be ambitious. Keep yourself busy. Think bigger. Expand your audience. Don’t hobble yourself in the name of “keeping it real,” or “not selling out.” Try new things. If an opportunity comes along that will allow you to do more of the kind of work you want to do, say Yes. If an opportunity comes along that would mean more money, but less of the kind of work you want to do, say No.

“There is no misery in art. All art is about saying yes, and all art is about its own making.” —John Currin

Pay it forward

When you have success, it’s important to use any dough, clout, or platform you’ve acquired to help along the work of the people who’ve helped you get to where you are. Extol your teachers, your mentors, your heroes, your influences, your peers, and your fans. Give them a chance to share their own work. Throw opportunities their way.
Once a month, I make myself available so that anybody can ask me anything on my website, and I try to give thoughtful answers that I then post so anyone can see.
You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.

10) Stick around

Start over. Begin again

“Whenever Picasso learned how to do something, he abandoned it.” —Milton Glaser

When you feel like you’ve learned whatever there is to learn from what you’re doing, it’s time to change course and find something new to learn so that you can move forward. You can’t be content with mastery; you have to push yourself to become a student again. “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough,” writes author Alain de Botton.
You have to have the courage to get rid of work and rethink things completely. “I need to sort of tear down everything I’ve done and rebuild from scratch,” said director Steven Soderbergh about his upcoming retirement from making films. “Not because I’ve figured everything out, I’ve just figured out what I can’t figure out and I need to tear it down and start over again.”
The thing is, you never really start over. You don’t lose all the work that’s come before. Even if you try to toss it aside, the lessons that you’ve learned from it will seep into what you do next.
So don’t think of it as starting over. Think of it as beginning again. Go back to chapter one—literally!—and become an amateur. Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning it out in the open. Document your progress and share as you go so that others can learn along with you. Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you.

“BOOKS ARE MADE OUT OF BOOKS.” — CORMAC MCCARTHY

  • Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices
  • Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From
  • David Byrne, How Music Works
  • Mike Monteiro, Design Is a Job
  • Kio Stark, Don’t Go Back to School
  • Ian Svenonius, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group
  • Sidney Lumet, Making Movies
  • P.T. Barnum, The Art of Money Getting