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Steal Like An Artist

Years ago, prior to my retirement, I was feeling stuck, unsure about my next steps and searching for some creative fire to light my thought processes. The book, Steal Like an Artist, jumped out and called caught my attention during a visit to the local bookstore.

Recently I pulled it back out and started following the blog of its author, Austin Kleon, who decribes himself as a writer who draws. Steal Like an Artist energized me. Like Julia Cameron's, The Artist's Way, Kleon's fresh drawings, quotes and metaphors encouraged me to think of myself as a creator.

Cameron prompted my daily practice of morning pages and Kleon's work helped me break through my hesitation to openly share my work. I began blogging and writing on my bathroom mirror as a form of self motivation that I hoped would inspire others.

Over the years, the courage to express my creativity has grown. A precious dimension has been added to my life, generated by a positive, ongoing self check-in that is unique to creative expression. If you haven't had a chance to read Austin Kleon's book, please do. I hope it will become a jumping off place toward a creative endeavor for you.

READ TO DISCOVER - Ten Steps To Unlock Creativity

"What is originality? Undetected plagiarism"

~ William Ralph Inge

Kleon invites us to study influential work of others who who spark your creative flow. The quality of your influencers are key, so create your own family tree with the people who's work you admire.

"Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas."

2. In other words - Fake it until you make it. Draw your ideas from your new family tree. The following people make my brain sing - Joseph Campbell, Anne LaMott, Brian Johnson, Maria de Popova, Kira Sloane, Leo Babauta, Julia Cameron Brown, Tara Brach, Thich Nhat Hanh and more. Check them out! Look at the work of people you admire and find out who they admire. Scarcity is a lie.

Who is in your family tree?

3. Kleon begins this chapter with a statement "Write what you like." At age ten, after seeing Jurassic Park for the first time, he couldn't wait for a sequel, so he wrote one himself.

What's missing in our world that you would like to see more of?

4. Recent research shows how the act of working with your hands alters brain chemistry. Watch CBS Sunday morning's segment on the topic.

Neuroscientist, Kelly Lambert, at the University of Richmond made up a term called 'behaviorceuticals,' instead of pharmaceuticals. She says: "when we move and when we engage in activities, we change the neurochemistry of our brain in ways that a drug can change the neurochemistry of our brain". Lambert says doctors in the last century would encourage women to knit away their anxiety!

What would you like to try your hand at?

5. "The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life." ~ Jessica Hische

All of us seem to return back to what we love doing again and again. For me it's singing. Kleon says sometimes you can incorporate your side projects, hobbies or interests into your work. For me, I love to sing when I am teaching yoga.

What interests have held your attention throughout your life?

6. This tip builds on the last one. I like Kleon's two step approach.

Step One: Wonder at something

Step Two: Invite others to wonder with you.

As I have written, wonder is my over-arching intention for 2018. When you remain in a state of wonder you have what author, Shunryu Suzuki, of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind calls, a beginner’s mind. He is often quoted: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”.

7. You can stay connected to the world simply by carrying a pad of paper and a notebook with you and taking time to write mindfully. There is too, of course, the internet where you can easily connect with others who are interested in your passions.

As a mindfulness practioner, I follow the guidance of Joseph Campbell:

"Everyone needs a sacred space where you can find yourself over and over again."

8. "There is only one rule I know of: You've got to be kind." ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Austin Kleon says everyone has a google alert on their name. So, if you talk about them, they will know. Aside from that, it's a healthy practice to create unity as we know from the Harvard study of human development, connections matter.

Here's what Kleon says you will need:

  • Curiosity

  • Kindness

  • Stamina

  • A willingness to look stupid.

9. Gustave Flaubert wrote: "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

Austin Kleon says, take of yourself, stay out of debt, keep a schedule and log your work. He also said marry well. Marriage is optional. :)

10. Creativity is subtraction!

Final advice from the book - Choose wisely and have fun!

Now my advice -

Life is short. Find time to do what you love!

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