Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative by Austin Kleon
This is a pretty slim book, but it’s full of great advice on thriving in today’s creative economy.
You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see. You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life…You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
On being in uncharted waters:
There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called “imposter syndrome.”…It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing. Guess what: None of us do. Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.
On changing yourself:
Pretend to be something you’re not until you are—fake it until you’re successful, until everybody sees you the way you want them to.
In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying. We’re talking about practice here, not plagiarism—plagiarism is trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse-engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works…As Salvador Dalí said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
Step away from the screen…While I love my computer, I think computers have robbed us of the feeling that we’re actually making things…If you have the space, set up two workstations, one analog and one digital.
Don’t throw any of yourself away. If you have two or three real passions, don’t feel like you have to pick and choose between them. Don’t discard. Keep all your passions in your life.
On the company you keep:
Stand next to the talent. You’re only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with. In the digital space, that means following the best people online—the people who are way smarter and better than you, the people who are doing really interesting work. If you find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.
Those are just a few of the things I highlighted. There’s lots of other good stuff in this book.