Austin Kleon wrote Steal Like An Artist — alluding, presumably, to the unsubstantiated Picasso quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. The book is intended for “anyone who’s trying to inject some creativity into their life and their work”. I found it a stimulating and thought-provoking read.
There are 10 chapters — creativity guidelines:
- Steal like an artist
- Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started
- Write the book you want to read
- Use your hands
- Side projects and hobbies are important
- The Secret: do good work and share it with people
- Geography is now longer our master
- Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
- Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
- Creativity is subtraction.
Each chapter has examples and specific suggestions on what to do. For example, in chapter 2, there’s a subheading: “Fake it ’til you make it”.
I love this phrase. There are two ways to read it:
1. Pretend to be something you’re not until you are — fake it until you’re successful, until everybody sees you the way you want them to; or
2. Pretend to be making something until you actually make something.
In Chapter 9: Get yourself a calendar:
The comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a calendar method that helps him, stick to his daily joke writing… get a wall calendar that shows you the whole year… break your work into daily chunks. Each day, when you’re finished with your work make a big fat X in the day’s box. Every day, instead of getting work done, your goal is just to fill a box. “After a few days you’ll have a chain, ” Seinfeld says. “Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is not to break the chain”
So I’ve now got one X on my calendar.