‘The question every young writer at some point asks is: “What should I write?” And the standard answer is, “Write what you know.” This advice always leads to terrible stories in which nothing interesting happens. We make art because we like art. We’re drawn to certain kinds of work because we’re inspired by people doing that work. All fiction, in fact, is fan fiction.’
~ from Steal Like An Artist
With all the furor about plagiarism these days, a lot of subsequent questions about creativity have surfaced. Should we try not to be influenced by what we’ve read/seen/heard? Is that even possible? Isn’t that why we seek out all these good things in the first place? So that working together, they will help form our thoughts and vision of the world? And how can we ever not have what we love and spend time with come out in our writing—or in any of our other creative endeavors?
Kleon approaches these questions in a delightfully invigorating way. Another quote: ‘You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes…somehow get a glimpse into their minds…to internalize their way of looking at the world.’ (And I was amazed at some of the famous people he quotes who have had positive things to say on the subject.)
His general approach to being/living as an artist is also helpful and settling as he discusses it in a very down-to-earth, pertinent, livable way, pointing out good reasons for why and how it should all tie together with the rest of our life. Very interesting to delve into as I think in reality (and he touches on this), we are all called in particular ways to be living as creative artists.
So, it’s a great, fun read (especially for when a creative fog comes up—or for guarding against one) and, all in all, I can heartily recommend it!