I recently read Austin Kleon’s book Steal like an Artist and would recommend it to anyone who is remotely creative (which arguably is all of us.) This book was a huge asset to me as I was overwhelmed with how to the everyday work of writing. Writing sounds glamorous and exciting until you sit down to do it. And then you’re sitting with a notebook in your lap or a computer screen starting back at you. Now what?
Thankfully, I stumbled across this gem at the library on my first visit in our new town. I first went to the “writer’s section” of the library and was deterred by all the books with impressive titles and felt acutely aware of my novice status. As I wandered through among other books, this one popped out to me, mostly because it was small and fun-looking and I recognized it as being one on my dear friend, Sarah’s shelves. Thankfully, that wasn’t all there was to this book.
I read it once all the way through in one sitting (since it really is quite small.) A few days later, I re-read it, taking copious notes, soaking up the practical wisdom of how to “do” creativity. Austin (I feel like I can call him this after he shared so many of his secrets in such a conversational way) provides simple, but realistic help for how to make your art happen. He was one of the reasons I went office supply shopping to help kick start my writing. He was one of the reasons I started a writing routine. He was one of the reasons I decided to start a blog and share some of what I’m working on regularly.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“Whenever you’re at a loss for what move to make next, just ask yourself, “what would make a better story?””
“Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.”
“In the end, creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out.”
This book was a tremendous help for me. Austin says that all advice is autobiographical and that he is writing to his younger self. Apparently my current self and his younger self needed much of the same words to heed. Maybe you need them too.