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Writers@Work: Interview with Austin Kleon

 © Blue Lily Photography

© Blue Lily Photography

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Austin Kleon, author of Show Your Work. I met Austin Kleon several years ago when he was on tour for Steal Like An Artist and was inspired by both his book and his talk. And now it’s your turn!

On Tuesday May 6, 2014 at 7:00 PM, come hear Austin Kleon speak at Boswell Book Company. And to get you in the mood for the signing, Austin offered some juicy answers to my questions ahead of time. Enjoy! -Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

Can you tell our readers what your new book is about? 

Show Your Work 3d Hi Res CoverShow Your Work! is a book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion. It’s a book about how to gain an audience for your work by sharing what you do in a way that’s interesting and helpful to others without taking away too much of your time, energy, and attention. These two books are the Robin Hood box set — first you steal, then you share.


What do you mean by, “Think process not product”? How can we share our process without OVER-sharing and boring our readers?

Just share something small every day. At the end of every day, take a look back at the day’s work and see if there’s something worth sharing with others. Share a work-in-progress, your inspiration, a story, or something you learned. Then get back to work.

One of your tips is, “Shut up and listen,” and you talk about the importance of reading and sharing. What are some of your favorite reads (blogs, books, whatever!)?

I like my friend Maria Popova’s blog a lot, Brain Pickings. I think Open Culture is another blog that’s consistently great. As for books, my favorite authors are Lynda Barry, Kurt Vonnegut, and Charles Schulz. As far as recent stuff, I thought John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars was a wonderful novel, and Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga comic book series is fantastic, too.

I’m always fascinated by the habits of writers and artists. What are some of the habits that help you work every day?

My habits change a lot when I’m on the road, but when I’m home, every day I meditate and I make one of my newspaper blackout poems. There’s something about having those daily practices that keeps me grounded no matter what I’m working on.

What wisdom would you give to a writer or artist who’s struggling to get noticed?

If you want to get noticed, you have to notice. Look at the world you want to be a part of, and first figure out how you can be helpful to the people in that world — maybe that’s by being a fan, or a patron, or a curator, or maybe it’s by contributing your own art or writing. But first ask what you want to do and what the world wants or needs— the narrow overlap between the two will be where you make your living.

About Austin Kleon: Austin Kleon is the New York Times bestselling author of three illustrated books: Steal Like An Artist (Workman, 2012) is a manifesto for creativity in the digital age; Show Your Work!(Workman, 2014) is a guide to sharing creativity and getting discovered; and Newspaper Blackout (Harper Perennial, 2010) is a collection of poetry made by redacting words from newspaper articles with a permanent marker. Visit him online at

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