I have lost track of the number of times people say ‘Think outside the box’, Think Innovatively; think creatively. What no one says is how one can do so by staying within our work & life boundaries. I have just completed reading a book ‘Steal like an artist’ by Austin Kleon. I wouldn’t say that this book is a classic like the ‘Six thinking hats’ rather it’s more like a guide to make your creative buds get down to work. The book tag line piques up the interest by claiming “10 things nobody told you about being creative”. I found it a refreshing read which emphasized on certain points related to creativity and included a few which were general gyaan for living a creative life. Let us take a quick peek into the 10 secrets for creativity and I will share my thoughts as we move along.
So, the 10 things nobody told you about being creative are:
- Steal like an artist
- Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started
- Write the book you want to read
- Use your hands
- Side projects and hobbies are important
- Do good work & share it with people
- Geography is no longer our master
- Be nice
- Be boring
- Creativity is subtraction
Personally speaking, I found the first 3 points most relevant to the topic at hand. I used to think that one has to be original with their ideas; that Original thinking is the best way of creativity. Austin has a different view. Jonathan Lethem says that when people call something “original,” nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved. One just needs to look at Kollywood’s music directors to understand the meaning of the above sentence. Quite a many South Indian music directors (except the two legends, of-course) who had supposedly composed great music in the early 90’s have seen the world figure out their secrets with the advent of Internet. They have been quietly stealing all along (or should I say choose innovatively) from their western counterparts. Anyways, returning back to our topic, the author says that one can steal good things to begin with and gradually you begin to find your own niche.
The second point impressed upon the fact that it’s in the act of making things & doing the work that we figure out who we are. This stands true for anything in our life. Most of us keep hoping that things will turn out better and then we keep waiting for that ‘Inspirational moment’ when things will change & we will find the purpose to our life. I had went through this phase few years back, when I was waiting for an inspiration to strike down from heavens, and Voila, I find my purpose!!! Guess what the ‘good moment’ may never come. But the good news is that ‘no matter where you are, you always have the choice to try what you want to do. Things may or may not turn out as you had envisioned but at-least you have given it a try & learnt something useful. You never know when Inspiration might strike you all of the sudden.
The third point is to do what you like doing. When you want to be creative, the best advice is not to write what you know; it’s to write what you like. The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done. That is the secret of success! :)
Rest all things in the book are pretty straightforward. In the end, Austin emphasizes the fact that we become what we focus upon. It’s about subtracting as much things from your life, that you will have time to add onto things you like doing. If you want to achieve something, subtract all the useless, time wasting activities from your daily routine. The sooner you realize this, the better your life will be.
To summarize, one quote about copying brings out the gist of the book. It’s like this - ‘Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style’. The idea is not to rip off from someone else, but understand their way of looking at the world and then through their eyes, find your vision. If one could do that, in due time you will be on your way to walk the path of creative genius!
Make the ‘creative spirit’ be with you!