How to Steal Like an Artist

April 4, 2011

Great advice on creation from Austin Kleon, creator of Blackout Poems:

“Do good work and put it where people can see it.” It’s a two step process.
Step one, “do good work,” is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts. Make stuff every day. Fail. Get better. Step two, “put it where people can see it,” was really hard up until about 10 years ago. Now, it’s very simple: “put your stuff on the internet.”

The whole, excellent manifesto is here.

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Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on Creativity

May 17, 2010

Lovely TED Talk about creativity by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s a wonderful speaker, and this talk makes everything feel better. One friend who listened to it said it sounded like she was advocating religion, but I don’t see it that way; I think it also ties into Gladwell’s Outliers 10,000 hours thing.

Basically both of them are saying, if you put the pen on the paper and just keep going; the genius will probably show up eventually.

20 minutes; no need to watch, you can just listen. Here.
Thanks to Hill for the tip.


The Cult of Done

March 3, 2009

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.

3. There is no editing stage.

4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.

5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.

6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.

7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.

8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.

9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.

10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.

11. Destruction is a variant of done.

12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.

13. Done is the engine of more.

By that pithy maker of many things Bre Pettis, who’s well-known on the interweb for many a thing, but best-known to me as someone who used to live in a cool NYC loft with my friends Ernie and Bert. Thanks, JP, for the tip.


To generate quality, prioritize quantity.

September 19, 2008

Blogger Alice of Finslippy wrote a good post about writing.
This anecdote stood out to me:

A ceramics class is divided into two groups. The first group is graded on quantity: it doesn’t matter how good their stuff is, just how many pounds of work they end up with. The second group is graded on quality: it didn’t matter how few pots they create, just how perfect the final product is. Can you guess who ends up doing the best work? It’s the quantity group: the students who churned out work day after day and learned from their mistakes. Meanwhile, the quality group had wasted time mulling over how they could achieve perfection, so by the end of the class they had “little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

There’s also a video in the link featuring Ira Glass, so you know it’s of the zeitgeist.


Creative people – great article

September 18, 2008

Found a great, lengthy & detailed article detailing some personality traits common to creative people. Excerpts below (the article is well-organized, which is hard to tell from the few snippets I’ve included here).

Perhaps the most difficult thing for creative individuals to bear is the sense of loss and emptiness they experience when, for some reason, they cannot work. This is especially painful when a person feels his or her creativity drying out. Yet when a person is working in the area of his of her expertise, worries and cares fall away, replaced by a sense of bliss.

Artist Eva Zeizel: “This idea to create something is not my aim. To be different is a negative motive, and no creative thought or created thing grows out of a negative impulse. A negative impulse is always frustrating. And to be different means ‘not like this’ and ‘not like that.’ And the ‘not like’–that’s why postmodernism, with the prefix of ‘post,’ couldn’t work. No negative impulse can work, can produce any happy creation. Only a positive one.”

Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping. When tests of masculinity/femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers. […] Psychological androgyny refers to a person’s ability to be at the same time aggressive and nurturant, sensitive and rigid, dominant and submissive, regardless of gender. A psychologically androgynous person in effect doubles his or her repertoire of responses. Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.

People who bring about an acceptable novelty in a domain seem able to use well two opposite ways of thinking: the convergent and the divergent. Convergent thinking is measured by IQ tests, and it involves solving well-defined, rational problems that have one correct answer. Divergent thinking leads to no agreed-upon solution. It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. … Divergent thinking is not much use without the ability to tell a good idea from a bad one, and this selectivity involves convergent thinking.

It’s a lot to absorb, well-written, and worth digging deep into. Here’s the full article; here’s the source.