Writers, actors, designers, and architects all know a thing or two about the fickleness of creativity. One day you’re engrossed in your work with ideas coming left and right like a fountain fit to burst. But on other days, that same fountain is dry as the dessert, giving nary a drop while you desperately try to coax its cooperation. Come on; you only need a few more lines to complete your self-published children’s book. They call it an artist’s block or writer’s block, the dreaded occurrence where every brushstroke and word on paper feel like a dentist pulling out stubborn teeth.
New York Times Bestselling Author Austin Kleon describes the creative process as being Phil Connors in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day. You’re stuck in a time loop, perpetually waking up to the morning of February 2nd. While this concept seems like a nightmare, Kleon shared it is the reality of the creative life everyone must accept. It is never a straight path where you arrive at a destination and be done. What then must a person do to thrive in creativity and put out constant work?
Power of a daily practice
Routine, lists, and discipline may seem counterintuitive to an industry known for subverting rigidity and expanding horizons. However, it is the repeatable and dependable process that gives creativity the liberty to roam and explore without being weighed down by the chaos of the outside world. Kleon conveys the effectiveness of the daily practice in his latest book, “Keep Going.” Building a writing routine will help people work at their craft every day no matter what happens and no matter if the output is award-winning or stays as ramblings in a personal journal.
It might be tempting to copy the routines of successful people. While helpful and a good starting point, you should tailor your routine to fit your tendencies, preferences, and personality. No person is the same in both internal and external circumstances. Your attempt to be a morning person and wake up at 5 AM might backfire if your body clock is more accustomed to nighttime productivity. Spend some time observing yourself and note down what method works for you the best.
Stealing is caring
If there is a mantra Austin Kleon is known for, it is his call to Steal Like an Artist as outlined in his book of the same title. There is a constant pressure to be original all the time, but this is a fool’s errand with the amount of content being generated 24/7. Kleon states that all creative work builds on what came before, and it is freeing to embrace the influence instead of running away from it.
Stealing like an artist doesn’t mean plagiarizing and copying text word for word. It means understanding their thinking and perspective, which will later help you build your style and brand. There is a fine line between copying and emulating. Emulating means going one step further from imitation and transform the original text into something new.
Living a creative life is both a burden and a gift. It fills you with a sense of dread with deadlines hounding your dreams,, but there’s nothing like the joy and accomplishment one gets when your work changes lives. Learn how to nurture your creativity and let Austin Kleon’s funny and down to earth musings guide your way.