Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review ~ Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon



‘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!





14 comments:

  1. Heidi, thanks you sooo much for telling me that you've seen Emma 2009! That's very considerate of you :-) I know you'd like it! Johnny Lee Miller is just THE best Mr Knightley isn't he?!

    Lovely post by the way ;)

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    1. You're welcome!! And yes! (I do still like Jeremy Northam's twinkly-eyed Knightley in the '96), but Johnny Lee Miller is just ummmm...yes...ummmm...wow...ummmm...words quite fail me... :-)

      And thank you! ;-)

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    2. Words quite fail you... haha. He was just perfect!!! *swoon* I just love the proposal scene, don't you? I've recorded it on my mp3 so that I can listen to it over and over and over and over. :-)

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    3. Oh yes, and Romola Garai's Emma was brilliant too. :-) I think Gwenyth Palrow's hair would annoy me, but maybe not. Was she good?

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    4. Yes, the proposal scene is just... amazing!! I can't stop smiling about it even as I sit here writing. ;-)

      Yes, I thought the hair-do's in the Gwyneth Paltrow one would annoy me, too, but she's so elegant I've actually come to really like some of them. And yes, (I think) she's quite/very good. I'd say I like both versions about equally. The '96 is shorter, so I think they bring out more of the humor in certain characters (the Elton's, etc.), and all the scenes are just very pithy and intense. And they really have a neat emphasis on friendship as being a wonderful opening to love. Anyhow, do let me know if you see it sometime. There are a couple hilarious moments I think you would really like and there are some great lines that can be adapted for all sorts of situations and get used a lot at our house. ;-)

      But, yes, I did really like Romola Garai's Emma, too. I wasn't sure during the first episode...but I was pretty floored by the end. :-)

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  2. I am certainly going to add this book to my wish list. :D I've been looking for something like this.

    Off subject, but do you know of any book on writing a deep POV? I finished the ones I have and I wondered if you know of any. :)

    ~Heidi

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    1. I do hope you can read it! I don't agree with absolutely all his tips, but--actually--I think they're pretty adaptable, and I do like his style.

      Are you referring to specifics of "how-to's" in writing POV's? Or are you thinking more about further character development?

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    2. Ah okay. I'm looking forward to reading it. :)

      I guess I'm thinking more about showing /who/ your character is, how he feels, the way he views the world, via setting. So, I guess character development. *nods*

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    3. Hmmm. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel is the one I can think of off the top of my head (and you've probably already read it ;-)). It actually has quite a bit about character development, character interviews, etc. and has helped me a lot with that problem recently (when some of my characters were simply refusing to let me know what was up with them :-)). Other than that (and this is hard to fit in), but I can heartily recommend the (very long) way around of making sure to keep up with a regular reading schedule of classics--to keep the fuel burning and to absorb the masters techniques so they're second nature....if that makes sense. :-)

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    4. Sorry, it's taken me so long to reply. :P

      Oh thanks! That's a great suggestion. :D Thank you!

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  3. I have this book! It's great fun, perfect for a creative pick-me-up snack when such a thing is needed.

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    1. Very fun! And "a creative pick-me-up snack" is a great way to describe it. ;-)

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    2. Just discovered he wrote a follow-up called "Show Your Work" about creative ways to, well, share what you make. Hoping to read it soon.

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    3. Hamlette,
      I've read it! And it's pretty good. I think overall I like Steal better, but Show did have some great takeaway points. I should probably get it again from the library.

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