Reading Series: Show Your Work!

“If I grow up to be a writer does that mean I am an artist and can wear strange clothes?” I asked this question of my older sister many years ago. At the time, I wanted to be assured that I could wear expressive, comfortable clothing instead of constraining suit pieces paired with too-bright shirts made out of material that makes you sweat.

Now, in my third year of college, I am still asking that question, but focusing on the first two elements: “Will I grow up to be a writer?” “Can I call myself an artist?” Thankfully, some of the classes I am taking this semester and the books assigned for those classes are helping me muddle together an answer one word at a time.

The first book I finished was Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work!, assigned for my Writing Online class. In it, Kleon encourages artists to make sure their work is findable: “think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others” (19). The reasoning behind this is no one is going to care about your work unless they can see your work. Kleon says people care about process and want to connect with you, as an artist, on that level.

Sharing on a regular basis also helps artists hone their work. “Once you make sharing part of your daily routine, you’ll notice themes and trends emerging in what you share” (64). I think this is a place I need to be right now: creating and sharing to discover what it is that I come back to over and over again. I am young in this writing world and still very unsure of who I am.

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Over the next few months, I will be sharing my thoughts on books I read (for class and otherwise) and how they are helping me answer my questions about being a writer and an artist. I hope you will join me on this journey of discovery.

What books or resources have you discovered that have helped you discover what it means to be an artist? How do you share your work?

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