I picked up Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon at the local library. I was looking for something light and inspiring. It delivered that and more. Kleon brings up a lot of good advice that’s not usually shared. My favorite? Be boring.
The chapter starts with one of my favorite quotes by Gustav Flaubert…
“Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
It’s quoted a little different in Kleon’s book (it was translated from French) but the meaning is the same. We only have so much creativity. We can put it towards creating ourselves, or creating art. But we have to choose.
Steve Jobs understood this. He wore the same outfit every day so he could spend all his mental energy on his creation. It’s the same reason I buy my clothes in multiples and wear a hat every day. I like the way the hat looks. I sometimes like how my hair looks. The hat guarantees I don’t waste brain power on my hair. Kudos to Kleon for bringing up an important truth that’s nearly always overlooked.
The entire book is worth reading. The advice is timely. He brings up how things have changed for creatives with the internet. He talks about how we can’t do everything. Doing what we love means not doing some other things. I wrote around 50,000 words this month between poetry, short stories, blog posts and my next book. I don’t have a social life. It’s a trade.
Steal Like an Artist really surprised me for the quality of content. It does read fast, but there’s valuable stuff here. If it were food it would be a meal replacement shake: pleasant, fast, easily digestible and full of everything you need to succeed. While I checked it out of the library, it’s a book I will probably add to my bookshelf, and I can see it being a good one to gift.
Entertaining, informative and succinct. Highly recommended.