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Steal Like an Artist – Unlock Your Creative Mind

Steal Like an Artist is a New York Times best-selling book written by Austin Kleon which is an inspiring guide to creativity in the digital age. It presents 10 things nobody told you about being creative that will help discover your artistic side and build a more creative life. This book inspired me to start what I love to do the most, blogging. Whoever you are, whatever you make I hope this article inspires you to unlock your creativity.

Here are 10 inspiring tips from the book ‘Steal Like an Artist’ that will boost your creativity and give you a new way of looking into the world.

#1 Steal like an Artist 🎨

Nothing is original.

Every piece of creativity that we see today is built on what came before. The work that we call original can sometimes be work already done by someone else where we couldn’t find the original sources. 

If you have some idea in mind, first you should research the topic. Then you’ll be able to gather the data from various sources. Next, you can use that information to work on your own projects. What happens is you mix one or more previous ideas together and come up with new ideas.

Garbage in. Garbage out.

When you look for inspiration don’t collect everything indiscriminately. You have to be selective about what you choose. Collect the things that you really love and leave out the rest for others.

steal like an artist - follow creative individuals
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Follow one creative individual and study everything about that person. Then you can start looking for other creative thinkers that person followed. Likewise you can repeat it as many times you want and you’ll start building your own creative thinking process.

Google everything.

Curiosity is one of the major things that drive us to become more creative. When you have a doubt, google it. Google every question that comes to your mind. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to find out solutions by googling rather than asking someone else.  

Always read.

steal like an artist - never stop reading
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When you find an opportunity try to read as much as possible. It can be a book, magazine, or just about anything. You’ll never know, your next idea might be hidden in one of those pages. 

If you don’t like going to the library there are plenty of e-books that you can collect and read. Sometimes you might find other interesting books while looking for something else. Collect those books and keep them for future reading.  

Carry a notebook.

Wherever you go carry a notebook to jot down your thoughts and feelings. If you find something interesting make a note of it. This doesn’t have to be a physical notebook. It’s totally up to you to decide how you are going to save your surrounding for inspiration. 

#2 Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started ⌛

Start making stuff.

Most of us are scared to get started. We naturally tend to procrastinate and end up not doing what we planned to do. We overthink what other people might think about our work and keep refining and end up not sharing the work with anyone at all. 

steal like an artist - start making stuff
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But if you ask any of the popular individuals today they have also started out from the bottom at one point in their life. The only difference is they keep making stuff until people start noticing it. 

Fake it ’til you make it.

There must be something that you are thriving to become in the future. Then you should start acting how you would want to be known. If you want to become a writer, you should start working like a writer. 

The world is your stage. You can do whatever it takes to become that creative person you want to be. The point is you should keep moving until everybody sees you the way you want them to.

Start copying.

We are born to this world without a style and voice. So we pretend to be someone else and start copying their style. This does not mean we are trying to show their content as our own. 

You just copy their way of looking at the world and come up with your own creativity. You can copy your heroes, the people you love, or the people that inspire you. But what are you going to copy from them? You just copy their way of thinking.

Emulate your heroes.

Humans are created in such a way that it’s hard to imitate someone. You might try really hard to become exactly like your superhero. But in trying to be someone you identify your hidden skills. 

Try to observe your heroes and create your own thing. You are unique and only you can add your magic to the world.  

#3 Write the book you want to read 📖

Do what you like.

Do the kind of stuff that you like the best. It can be writing a new book or a song or it can be drawing an art. Start working on the stuff you would want to be done in the future. Whenever you are stuck or not sure what move to make next, ask yourself “what would make your work better?”

Go make that stuff.

Don’t overthink what others might think. So just go ahead and start making the stuff that you love to do. Start learning the skill that you want to be good at. Draw the art that you want the world to see. Build the product that you always wanted to use. 

#4 Use your hands 👐

Step away from the screen.

The thing about using a computer is that we always tend to be perfect and the screen area seems to be limited. So we always try to delete and start fresh because we want it to look perfect. 

But with papers, the possibilities are endless. You can keep sketching your ideas until you find what you like. But a computer can be good for editing your ideas and publishing your work out to the world. 

#5 Side projects and hobbies are important 🧩

Practice productive procrastination.

Take breaks in between projects. Getting bored and doing nothing sometimes helps you to come up with more creative ideas. You can work on multiple projects and switch between them when doing the same thing gets boring. 

Don’t throw any of yourself away.

Have you noticed that our passions and dreams keep changing with time? When you were small if someone asked you who you wanted to be the answer might be different from what you want to become today. If you have multiple passions, it’s okay to pick and choose between them but don’t throw them away.

It’s important to have a hobby.

A hobby is something that you’ll do without expecting anything in return. Having a hobby will boost your creativity and in turn help you with the other work you do.

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#6 Do good work and share it with people 🎊

In the beginning, obscurity is good.

steal like an artist - its good to be unknown in the beginning
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You might be someone doing a lot of things to achieve a goal. You might be a writer, writing for a very long time. But you don’t have an audience to share your work with. Some people get discouraged when they are not getting discovered. The truth is that most people are busy so be patient.

Being unknown in the beginning can be good since you have enough time to review and improve your work. You won’t have any pressure and you can do whatever you want. So use this time to experiment with things.

The not-so-secret formula.

In his book, Austin explains that the secret to getting discovered is to do good work and share it with people. There is no shortcut to success. You have to create and make stuff every single day. Also, don’t forget to share it with people!

Put stuff on the internet.

After you’ve done the work share it with the online community. You are not only giving but it’s one of the best places to get inspiration. People will start reacting to your work and you’ll be able to learn and steal a lot of things too.

Share your dots, but don’t connect them.

steal like an artist - connect your dots but don't share them
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Learn how to do stuff. It can be learning a new skill or starting out a new business. Find people on the internet who have similar interests and connect with them. Share a little glimpse of what you are working on. You don’t have to share everything. If you are worried about sharing your secrets with them just share the dots but don’t connect them. 

#7 Geography is no longer our master 🌐

Build your own world.

You don’t have to be physically available somewhere to build connections with people today. There are tons of online communities where you can make new friends. Building connections with people will bring a lot of creativity and inspiration to the work you do. 

If you don’t like the world you live in right now, build it on your own. Surround yourself with the things you like to see and engage with. 

Leave home.

Living in the same surrounding can get boring with time. You’ll become too comfortable with it and get used to it. So once in a while, it’s good to step outside and see what’s happening in the world.

 You need to spend time in different locations with different people to boost your creativity. Where you want to go can depend on your own personal tastes.

#8 Be nice, the world is a small town 😊

Make friends, ignore enemies.

There’s only one rule to making new friends. That is to be kind and say nice things about them. Ignore people who demotivate you and talk negatively about your work. Rather focus on people who bring out the best in you. 

Stand next to talent.

Try to follow, talk to, or engage with people who are smarter and better than you. If you are in a room with a bunch of people, stand next to the most talented person. If it’s you find another room. 

Quit picking fights and go make something.

Not everyone likes your content. So there will be days when you get angry when you see that people do stupid things or see the hate comments. It’s okay to get angry. Instead of complaining use that energy to work on the stuff you love to do.  

Write fan letters.

We all have our own heroes and their work inspires us in different ways. You can send them a letter, an mail, or even post a public note to appreciate their work. Admire their work in any possible way because if it wasn’t for their work you wouldn’t be what you are today.

Get comfortable with being misunderstood, or ignored.

People will start judging you once you share your work with the world. They will view your work from different angles. Some will compliment you while others misinterpret the work that you do. The trick is to be busy with your work. Then you won’t have enough time to care about what other people think of you. 

Keep a praise file.

steal like an artist - have a praise file
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There will be tons of people appreciating the work you do. You become thrilled when you see a message from someone admiring the work you do. It also helps to boost your energy to do more work. But there might be days you feel sad and drained and want to give up. So save all the compliments somewhere you can access when feeling down to lighten up your day.

#9 Be boring, It’s the only way to get work done 📅

Take care of yourself.

Being creative is not an easy task. It takes a lot of energy to come up with an idea to get started. Therefore do some workouts, eat properly and sleep really well. Also, don’t forget to have a little fun between work! 

Stay out of debt.

Spend your money wisely. Make yourself a budget and follow it. If something is not very necessary don’t buy it. Instead, save the money you earn. 

Keep your day job.

You will meet a lot of people and learn new things during your day job. You can steal a lot of ideas that will help with your own work. The problem with a day job is that it takes a lot of the time we have. But you can have a proper plan and leave out some time for your own creative work. 

Get yourself a calendar.

steal like an artist - use a calendar
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Having a calendar can help you track your performance and plan ahead. You can have a calendar on your wall for each month or the whole year and break it into boxes. Each day when your work is done you can fill the box. The goal is to maintain the chain and not break it. 

Keep a logbook.

It is good to have a daily record of the work that you did. What you worked on, where you went, or something new that you learned for the day. Try to note down all the good things that happened also the things that you learned from the mistakes.

Marry well.

Find a partner who will always support you to do what you love. Find someone who motivates you to become better and lifts you up during your bad days. 

#10 Creativity is subtraction ✨

Choose what you leave out.

There a limitless possibilities out there in the world. Figure out what you need to leave out so that you can concentrate on the important work. Try to figure out things with the resources that you have now. Don’t make excuses to postpone or skip the stuff that you love to do. 

Remember “creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out”. 

Now that you have unlocked your creativity check out my article ‘10 Tips to Become 1% Better Every Single Day‘ to get extra motivation! 🔥

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