🔎 A quick snippet of the book
Steal like an Artist is a guide for creative enthusiasts in the digital age. Every idea out there is having a reference and anyone can steal from those reference and create something unique. The book provides ten broad ideas about creative stealing and reimagining the stolen stuff in a different way, creating a unique path.
The key idea is Everything is Stealable.
🎭 Who should read it?
I think everyone should read this book. There is something to take away for everyone. I believe that everyone is a creative enthusiast. If you don’t consider yourself as a creative person, after reading this book you might unlock a new you.
📚 Summary and Book notes
Steal like an artist
How to look at the world (like an artist) – We need to consider the world as an endless repertoire of things that we can steal from. If we can think of everything in this way, most of our so called “creative” problems are solved. Nothing is good or bad anymore. Everything will become worth stealing or not worth stealing.
Nothing is original – You should remember that nothing that you come across is an absolute original. When someone claims something to be an original work, nine out of ten times they are not aware of the references or the original source.
Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again – Andre Gide (French writer)
Garbage in garbage out – If you look closely into scraps and garbage, there is a slight possibility that you find yourself a penny or two. Artists are also collectors of huge piles of ideas which are both good or bad. If you have an incoming source of ideas, you can filter out the bad ones and get influenced by the good over time
Climb your own family tree – Find a writer or role model whom you really love. Study everything there is to know about that person. Then find three people whom that writer admires and find out everything about them. You can repeat this as many times as you want and start building your own branches of knowledge.
School yourself – Be curious about the world. Don’t wait for your school to tell you about stuff that your are interested in. Google every question that’s on your mind. You will either end up with an answer or you’ll come up with a better question. Collect books even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Collect them just for the sake of your collection
Nothing is more important than an unread library – John Waters (Filmmaker)
Save your thefts for later – Keep a writing instrument on you at all times. Ideas don’t knock before popping up. Write down whenever you have an idea. Our brains are not meant for holding stuff for long, so be prepared even when you are not awake.
Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started
Make things know thyself – Don’t have self-doubt. Don’t fall victim to the so-called imposter syndrome. You might be scared to start. You might not feel like you are the right guy to do the work. Trust me, all of us feel the same at some point. At the end of the day the noun (work) can only be accomplished by the verb (working) and hence, there is no harm trying.
Fake it till you make it – Pretend to be good at the work you want to do and keep on grinding till you actually are good at it. Fake it until you are successful, until everybody sees you the way you want to be seen.
Start copying – Know the difference between copying and plagiarism. Don’t put someone else’s work out there claiming it to be your own. That’s plagiarism. Reverse engineer the work and make it your own by rebuilding and adding a different flare to it.
If you have one person you’re influenced by, everyone will say you’re the next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you’re so original – Gary Panter (cartoonist)
If you copy from one author it is plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research.
Imitation is not flattery – Don’t just imitate, start emulating someone whom you look up to. Transform the imitation into something that is uniquely yours. Reinventing the wheel is a bad decision. Making the same wheel in a different flare is a good one.
Write the book you want to read
Write what you like – Make the stuff that you want to see. Don’t wait for others to make it for you. Give your imaginations wings. Write a fan fiction. Scribble what you like, and not what you know. Pen the stories you want to read.
Use your hands
Step away from the screen – Work that only comes from the head isn’t any good. We need to get into the motion and dictate our brain with our bodies. Don’t rely only on the digital instruments for your work. They are of course good for editing and publishing your ideas to the world, but not good at generating ideas. The more tangible your work is to you, the better it becomes. Keep separate digital and analog workspaces.
Side projects and hobbies are important
Practice productive procrastination – It is always good to have a lot of projects going on at once so that you can bounce between them. If you get bored with one, you can shift to the other, and move back when you get bored of the other one. Take you time to explore the possibilities because opportunities won’t announce their arrival.
Don’t throw any of yourself away – You are allowed to have as many passions as you wish. You don’t have to choose between them. Keep your hobbies are of great importance, so never think of discarding any of it.
In the beginning, obscurity is good – When you start a work, you should not fixate on the fact that you are not getting attention at the beginning. Rather, you should be happy that you are obscure at the initial stage. Use this obscurity to experiment on your work and gradually it will take a form that you yourself hadn’t imagined.
The not-so-secret formula – The only formula that you can rely on to get into the people’s radar is to do good work and share it with them. Consistency is the key here. It doesn’t matter that you suck in the beginning. Your failures will pave the way eventually. What every little you do, show it to people without the fear of getting judged. Put it up on the internet (start a blog maybe). The more open you are about sharing your passions, the closer people will feel to your work. Use the internet not only to publish your finished works, but also to incubate ideas that are not fully formed.
It can surely be intimidating for someone because there is this fear of your work being stolen on the internet. Therefore, you don’t have to share everything. Share some bits and pieces of your process. Make the dots, don’t join them.
Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats – Howard Aiken
Geography is no longer our master
Build your own world – Standing in the 21st century, you don’t need to worry about connections. They are at your fingertips. All you need to do is give it some time and effort and this miracle called the internet will show you the way. You are surrounded by creative people all around you at all times.
Leave home – Although geography is not a limiting factor anymore, the place where we are is important and hugely impacts our work. At some point you need to leave the place that you have been living in for a long time. Shifting away from our comfort zone and living among people who are slightly different from us is a refresher for the brain.
Be nice (The world is a small town)
Make friends, ignore enemies – Ignore people whom you don’t like rather than speaking about them. If you want to make friends on the internet be kind to people.
Stand next to the talent – Follow people on the internet who are way better and way smarter than you. If you are surrounded by people who are actually doing the work, you will eventually start getting better. The companionship matters.
Find the most talented person in the room, and if it’s not you, go stand next to him. Hang out with him. Try to be helpful – Harold Ramis
Quit picking fights and go make something – Channel your anger into something creative. If you don’t like something that someone is presenting, make something better instead of pointing out the cons.
Write fan letters – If you love somebody’s work, appreciate him and don’t expect a response. Try writing a blog post about your hero’s work
Validation is for parking – Don’t wait for a validation from people out there because you don’t have any control over it. Your work might get misinterpreted and misunderstood. Keep your so busy with your work that you don’t need to care about all these petty things.
Keep a praise file – Keep a collection of nice and good comments that people made about you on the internet. When you feel low, just read through and find the motivation.
Be boring (it’s the only way to get work done)
Take care of yourself – It’s best to assume that you’ll be alive for a while. So take care of yourself. Eat properly, exercise daily and go for long walks. Creative work is energy consuming. So build it up and don’t waste it unnecessarily.
Stay out of debt – Learn how to use money. Keep a budget for everything and hold onto it as tight as you can. Spend according to the bare minimum needs.
Keep your day job – Until you can make a living off doing your creative work, keep your day job. It does take away most of the time, hence a routine is mandatory. It is going to save you a lot of time. Allocate time wisely and efficiently. Stick to your routine
Get yourself a calendar – Get a calendar and mark a big fat X after you have completed a daily job that you had set out for. Do this everyday and try not to break the chain. Consider filling the Xs as your only job at the end of the day.
Keep a logbook – Keep a record of your daily to-do lists and track your progress. It is better than keeping a detailed daily journal
Marry well – It is important to choose wisely when it comes to your life partner. But it is equally important to choose who you do business with, who you befriend, and who you choose to be around.
Creativity is subtraction
Choose what to leave out – The idea of limitless possibilities is paralyzing. You should choose carefully what to leave out. If you have a set boundary, the right constraints can lead to your very best works.
Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want—that just kills creativity – Jack White
In the end, creativity greatly depends not only the things we put in, but also on the things we leave out.
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