Unexpected Take-Aways on Creativity and Self-Care: Steal Like an Artist

There is so much good advice on the connection between creativity and self-care that I didn’t expect when I first started reading Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative (available on my Bookshop and Amazon*).

While short in length, it is not short of useful ideas. Austin Kleon is an artist known for Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. He shares his secrets and that of others about a creative life. The art and illustrations are a pleasure to flip through, I find myself turning to it time and again for inspiration or a pick-me-up.

This book is not just for “creative types.” As he says, “They’re for everyone.” And, as Ken Robinson, an expert in developing creativity in education and business, argues in his book Out of Our Minds: Learning To Be Creative, we all need to learn to be creative in order to meet the challenges of living and working in the 21st century.

Much of his book focuses on dispelling the unstated myths that artists 1) are the blessed few who have been endowed with genius and/or talent, and thus 2) magically produce works of art without much effort. But, I found the other, perhaps, more tangential ideas of his book to be quite salient for women and parents.

Lessons on Creativity and Self-Care for talented and caring women (a.k.a. very busy women):

Very busy women tend to be overwhelmed by all that is required of them. Austin Kleon has three disparate ideas when connected are completely relevant to busy women:

Here are three of my favorite quotes

Side projects and hobbies are important…. A hobby is something creative just for you. You don’t try to make money or get famous off it, you just do it because it makes you happy.

Take care of yourself…. It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.

Choose what to leave out…. In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them.

When I put these ideas together from chapters 5, 9, and 10, I get: Take care of yourself by adding something creative that’s just for you and removing something less important.

Other Take-Aways for Parents and Managers

Austin Kleon includes a picture of his office in this book. Thankfully, he also posted an image on his blog. It has two desks: a digital desk and an analog desk. He does this because…

The computer is really good for editing your ideas and it’s really good for getting your ideas ready for publishing into the world, but it’s not really good for generating ideas. There are are too many opportunities to hit the delete key. The computer brings out the uptight perfectionist in us–we start editing ideas before we have them.

Favorite Image on Creativity and Self-Care

While I do like the image of his desks, my favorite image, one that will help you persevere and see a project thru, is the one Austin Kleon “stole” from Maureen McHugh.

If you do check out the book, I’d be curious to know what you think and if it inspires you to try something new.

P.S. I also own Austin Kleon’s two other books: Show Your Work and Keep Going and follow him on Instagram for even more inspiration. While you’re at it, please follow me too!

This is a revised and updated version of an older book note first published in June 2014.

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*Some of the links on this page are “affiliate links” where I receive a small commission from any purchases at no cost to you. Some of these funds will be donated to organizations supporting women and girls.