Steal like an Artist – A Book Review

Book Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This bestseller has 10 ideas to unlock your creativity and sustain it.

It comes highly recommended by some of my favorite bloggers and YouTubers.

I really want to get better at writing, and I’m hoping to get published someday. On this quest, I’m trying to read books and attend classes that help, motivate and push me towards my goal of becoming a Writer. Through my reviews, My hope is to help you, reader, decide whether to actually buy the book for yourself or to simply learn the lessons I gleaned from the books, as some of these non-fiction books are pretty expensive.

Coming to the book….

The first idea is to “Steal like an Artist”.

The author, Austin Kleon, says, no art is original, but if someone calls a work “Original”, it just means that this person doesn’t know the reference material from which it originates. Isn’t that freeing? How often do we listen to our inner critic( and sometimes external ones too) who shames us for not doing something “different”?! We make art by copying what our idols do, repeating and then over a period of time develop our own style. He suggests we collect good ideas, from people we admire, from the books we read, the art we enjoy and sift through them, see them through new eyes and use them in unique ways. He quotes the French Writer, Andre Gide, as saying, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again”

I always believed we had to write what we knew, but then, he says, if we did just that, our work becomes dull and boring. If I began writing about my everyday mommy and teacher life, I’m sure I’d bore you to Unfollow! His words- “Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use- do the work you want to see done.”, struck a chord with me.

He suggests we get our hands “dirty”- to use all our senses for our next project and not just clack away at the keyboard. The solution to get our creative juices flowing is by making stuff with our hands and allowing ourselves to get bored. Taking long walks, doing menial work- like laundry, the dishes, ironing (which I do plenty of) surely helps in getting our sluggish creative wheels turning, he says. Sadly, my phone doesn’t allow me to get bored!

He emphasizes the importance of holding onto your daily job, especially “if it pays decently, doesn’t make you vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things in your spare time”. A day job gives you a routine. And routine is highly important for creativity. Doing the work everyday helps you stay in the groove. If you get out of the groove, your work loses its flow…. like mine, right now, wonder what you’re thinking about my rambling!

The only route to success is by doing your work on a daily basis. And that requires time and energy, which are in short supply. He asks us not to waste it on other stuff.

And it is true that when you do something over a long period, you build a collection. Some days you don’t do your best work, but in the long run, you would have amassed enough material to publish your next book or create a portfolio. To maintain this daily, I love Jerry Seinfeld’s Calendar method. Apparently, the comedian uses a big wall calendar that shows the whole year and he crosses every day that he accomplishes his joke writing quota. And then he tries not to break the chain. I’m definitely going to try this method for my daily writing.

I wish I’d read this book in my 20s. Now I know most of these lessons, but since I haven’t implemented some of them yet, it is always a good reminder to read such books. See… it goes to show that everything that needs to be said has already been said, yet it needs to be said over and over again, in fun and innovative ways.

This book is an easy-breezy read. I wish it wasn’t as expensive as it was though.

-Manasa.


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