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Show Your Work

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Instead of giving my thoughts on Kleon’s article as a whole, I’ll say what I thought about each of the 10 points he brought up.

1) You don’t have to be a genius.

This point is has a pretty standard message: “be yourself!” It’s an important thing to remember, but, as it’s an oft-recited phrase, it’s as an important a part of this article as a whole.

2) Think process, not product.

Sharing the creative process with fans seems to be, from what I’ve seen, an increasingly prevalent way to create things. Fans want to have a connection with the art that an artist produces. They want to offer support and suggestions, to feel like they’re a part of the work.

3) Share something small, every day.

Just like point 2, this is something artists are now able to do thanks to the advent of the internet and social media. This point ties in very much with point 2, as sharing things often is the best way to connect with fans and followers. However:

you might have to miss an hour of sleep

Not happening, Kleon.

4) Open up your cabinet of curiosities.

I agree completely. When I’m conlanging, I take a lot of inspiration from real-world languages to make sure they seem naturalistic (i.e. seem like they could be a real language). If I find a language that has some really cool feature or some neat quirk, I’ll show it to my conlanging friends, so they can also find inspiration in the weird things languages do.

5) Tell good stories.

The background behind a work of art is incredibly important, so I agree with Kleon here. Understanding what went into the art, instead of just seeing or hearing the result, adds an entirely new dimension to it.

6) Teach what you know.

This point ties in well with point 4. In addition to sharing inspiration, sharing information brings up the quality of content for the entire group. It also ties in with point 2, as you’re bringing your fans and other artists into your creative process.

7) Don’t turn into human spam.

you got me


8) Learn to take a punch.

Yep; knowing how to handle criticism, both constructive and destructive less constructive, is important in any project.

9) Sell out.

“They sold out” is one of the dumbest criticisms of any artist I regularly hear. Kleon is entirely right in that being successful or ambitious isn’t a bad thing in the slightest. Doing things that you love should be your goal; if things turn out better for you along the way, then that’s just a bonus.

10) Stick around.

This is one of the most important points Kleon brings up in this article. I see way too many good ideas get abandoned. This is especially true in conlanging, as any conlanger will tell you that there really isn’t such a thing as a “finished” conlang. There’s always more you can do; all you have to do is not give up.

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