A few minutes ago, I finished Steal Like an Artist, a book about learning how to channel your creativity by Austin Kleon.
It was given to me by the heads of the Innovation Diploma (http://innovationdiploma.wordpress.com) at my school, Mrs. Meghan Cureton (http://meghancureton.wordpress.com) and Mr. Bo Adams (http://itsaboutlearning.wordpress.com).
It was a very different format from most books I’ve read, even the informational (rather than novel) ones I’ve read. There were quotes, bolded text, pictures, drawings, charts, newspaper clippings, different fonts, and lists. The book is a square, rather than a rectangle.
There were two parts that spoke to me more than any other, however: the rules of copying work and how to create something you want to be in the world.
The whole books, as said by the title, is about how to steal the work of others. When I first read the title, I was confused. Growing up, I had always been taught not to plagiarize, copy, or steal. This particular part of the book taught me that those words are not interchangeable. When you plagiarize, you take word for word, muscle movement for muscle movement, line for line, from one source. Copying is changing something you love to fit who you are. When you copy, you take from multiple sources, compile it all together, and create something that only you could create. As for the stealing part, that is a constant theme throughout the book ranging from material to time and therefore does not play as big of a role in this part.
Writers are told to “write what they know.” Since hearing that, I always thought it meant to write the things you read about, so that’s what I did. As it turns out, it doesn’t. It means to write about the life you have, so it’s probably a good thing I misinterpreted it. Learning the correct meaning of that saying made me curious, though. If writers are told to write what they know, do they all ignore that advice? Do they have more exciting lives than I believed possible? Do they write what they know they want in the world? How do some writers become fantasy fiction writers and other realistic fiction? Who dictated that the fantasy isn’t realistic? After all, it’s obviously realistic in the minds of some people. But these questions aside, the “write what you want to read” section also applied to art, music, photography, building, and anything else that must be created to exist.
This is a book I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn what they are capable of and how to get there. For those of you who have already read it, I would love to hear which parts spoke to you most of all.