For those writers who may, at the moment, feel bogged down by their work or by the heavy intrusions of life and the wide world, I highly recommend a book entitled Steal Like an Artist, 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, by Austin Kleon. Along with good advice, Kleon’s book has about it a cheerful creative abandon. His feeling of freedom is contagious–the ultimate in the sense of play necessary for creative work.
Amongst Kleon’s words of wisdom, culled from others, is that nothing is completely original. Creative work always builds on what came before. (I’d add that that is true whether the creator realizes it or not.) He notes that we learn by copying (not to be confused with plagiarism–read the book! ) You begin by copying those writers/artists you like, and end up unable to do so adequately, but in the process, find something else original to you. (Who wants to be a mere imitator anyway?)
The Kleon book has much advice that we writers may already be aware of, but forget when we feel weighed under–advice like: “The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself,” or “write what you like” (rather than what you “know.” –something that I strongly advocated in the very first post of this blog). However, my favorite advice from Steal Like an Artist is: “If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.” –meaning, of course, that if you are the most talented person in the room, you’re not being intellectually challenged in a way that will make you grow and expand.
I’m not generally one for motivational books of any kind, but this one replenishes my spirit every time I read it!
(For a full dose of Austin Kleon’s playfulness, see his website at www.austinkleon.com.)