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Have you read Steal Like an Artist? What other creative self-help books should you read?
In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon (a self-described “writer who draws”) shares his tips for maximizing your creativity, finding inspiration, breaking out of a creative rut, and connecting with other people doing exciting work. His advice applies to anyone who uses creative thinking in their work, not just to artists in the traditional sense.
Check out these books if Steal Like an Artist made an impact on your life.
Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
TITLE: Show Your Work
AUTHOR: Austin Kleon
Starting off, you should read Austin Kleon’s other books on creativity and self-expression. In Show Your Work!, Kleon guides readers through his view of effective self-promotion. As he sees it, the best way to promote what you do—whether you’re an artist in the traditional sense or someone who uses creativity in your job—is to publicly share it through your process, from the earliest phases to the finished product. This kind of sharing allows you to focus on honing your skills while making yourself available to be discovered and appreciated. Kleon attributes much of his own success to this practice of sharing.
Kleon follows a similar structure in Show Your Work! to the one he used in Steal Like an Artist—he presents his ideas as 10 pieces of advice, which he intersperses with his original illustrations. We’ve reorganized these ideas into five themes:
- Why you should share your work all the way through your process
- How to share your creative process
- How to deal with online attention
- How to make money off your creative work
- How to persevere
Keep Going by Austin Kleon
TITLE: Keep Going
AUTHOR: Austin Kleon
If you’re stuck in a creative block, you should read Kleon’s Keep Going. How can you stay creative despite feeling stressed, burnt out, or inadequate? Kleon provides methods for overcoming emotional obstacles to creativity. He suggests an approach to creativity that finds joy in the process of making art, rather than the external rewards it might bring you. In addition, Kleon provides several work and lifestyle tips for not only making creative work but also feeling good about the work you make.
Poet and visual artist Austin Kleon provides 10 principles for staying creative—even in the face of burnout, self-doubt, or distress at the state of the world. We’ve divided his principles into three central themes:
- Have healthy creative goals.
- Stay in the moment.
- Live a healthy creative life.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
TITLE: The War of Art
AUTHOR: Steven Pressfield
What’s stopping you from fulfilling your dreams? Is it time, family, motivation, fear, or one of several distractions you face regularly? In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says it’s all of these things and places them under one umbrella—resistance. Although the book mainly discusses resistance surrounding creative pursuits, the book speaks to anyone trying to attain personal growth and satisfaction in their life by following their heart’s desire.
Pressfield breaks down the enemy within that holds you back from reaching your potential, how to reframe your pursuits for success, and how to tap into your creative power. Understanding resistance and how to push past it is important not only to honor the genius you were born with but also to ensure you don’t spiral into a state of dissatisfaction with yourself and life.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
TITLE: Big Magic
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Gilbert
If you’ve ever felt a creative tug or impulse, writer Elizabeth Gilbert can help you act on it. According to Gilbert, creativity is not just the domain of a few brilliant professional artists, but rather an enriching way of life that anyone can adopt at any time. If you embrace creativity, you’ll experience “Big Magic”: a mystical or spiritual force of creativity that brings joy and purpose.
Big Magic is Elizabeth Gilbert’s guide to leading a more fulfilled life by making creativity, in any guise that suits you, a part of your daily existence. The book offers spiritual wisdom on how to work with the magical forces of creativity and suggestions on how to create effectively and productively. Gilbert draws on her successful career as a writer, best known for her 2006 memoir Eat Pray Love, and her advice is aimed toward anyone who has a creative bent.
In the book, Gilbert outlines her unique definitions of creativity, including the concept of “Big Magic.” She elaborates on how to work effectively with Creative Sorcery before describing how to embark on a creative journey and keep your creative momentum up over the long term.
On Writing by Stephen King
TITLE: On Writing
AUTHOR: Stephen King
On Writing is Stephen King’s musings on his craft—about how he discovered writing, what he learned about it, and his advice to you as a writer. Part memoir and part practical advice, it’s a personal look at one of the bestselling authors of all time.
Find out how King got his start by writing as a teenager but struggled as an early writer until his breakthrough book Carrie. Then, learn his key tips for writing good fiction, including how to develop a realistic story and characters, why you must avoid adverbs, and how to make it in the writing business.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
TITLE: On Writing Well
AUTHOR: William Zinsser
No matter your current skill level, William Zinsser believes anyone can practice the craft of writing. On Writing Well offers a back-to-basics approach, focusing on honing essential writing skills rather than trying to employ complex stylistic techniques. Even if you’re not a professional writer, you’ll often find yourself in a position where you need to express an idea with words. Whether you’re crafting an email or a resume, you can apply Zinnser’s principles of simple, clear, and engaging writing. This book explores how to approach the discipline of writing and effectively put your ideas into words.
In this book, you’ll learn about simplicity and how to achieve it by eliminating clutter and choosing precise words. Then you’ll learn how to achieve clarity through logic and consistency. You’ll also find your writing identity and how to make tasteful creative choices. Finally, you’ll learn common creative nonfiction writing genres.
The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
TITLE: The Bullet Journal Method
AUTHOR: Ryder Carroll
In Steal Like an Artist, Kleon advises using the right tools to keep your creative life organized. One way to do this is with a bullet journal.
After years spent perfecting his own organizational techniques, author Ryder Carroll devised the Bullet Journal Method—a single-notebook system designed to help him add structure to his life, set goals, and gain clarity on what was important to him through comprehensive planning and reflection on tasks and events.
Carroll developed the method after growing tired of struggling to maintain focus and keep up with his responsibilities. After realizing the method’s potential to help others, he decided to formalize it, streamline it, and release it to the public through online resources and the eventual publication of The Bullet Journal Method.
In this book, you’ll discover Carroll’s argument for why you should start Bullet Journaling. Then, you’ll dive into the method itself, detailing both its main components and how to get started. Finally, you’ll explore how to use the practice of Bullet Journaling to improve both your productivity and quality of life.
What Books Would You Recommend?
All of these books above will help you boost your creativity like Steal Like an Artist will, but are there other books you would recommend? Leave your thoughts in the comments below if more books have helped you become the best artist you can be. And if you haven’t already read Steal Like an Artist (or just need a refresher), check out the Shortform guide and get the key ideas in a fraction of the time.
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