Limitations and Stealing Like an Artist

I am no artist, but I want to create things, to be inspired, to be a little obsessed, to make connections that no one else sees. I get obsessed about things now — especially music —  but not the same as I did before the advent of social media.

So, in the spirit of leaving Facebook and limiting my social media access soon, Austin Kleon‘s Steal Like an Artist has some great points to make in service of becoming a little more creative, and a little less concerned about the daily limitations I face against pursuing the things I want to do and the person I want to be. Some major points in his book (with some subpoints) that I found helpful:

  1. “Write the book you want to read.”
    • This immediately struck me, because I find it difficult to not write without an audience in mind (and trust me, I know I don’t even have an audience). But I can’t help myself. A larger quote from that section of the book: “If all your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew? Go make that stuff. The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want o 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.”
  2.  “Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)”
    • I’m constantly frustrated that I don’t get the opportunity to make my living doing something I absolutely love. But maybe that’s not the point: “The trick is to find a day job that pays decently, doesn’t make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things in your spare time.” And this leads to the next point…
  3. “Creativity is subtraction.”
    • The point here is not having infinite resources and time and availability. The truth is, perhaps, that the best kinds of work come from constraints (Richard Beck just posted about this recently on writing books). Austin Kleon writes: “In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important. Nothing is more paralyzing that the idea of limitless possibilities. The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying.”

Leave a Reply