Austen Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist

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This is my love-hate reading of all time.

As a person who tries to pursue her dreams in creative field, this book speaks what I need to hear when I’m having a writer’s block (even though I’m not a writer) and hesitation to start something. That’s why I love it. Why I hate it? Because it’s a self-help book. I hate the fact the I am enjoying a self-help book.

I don’t read self-help books and usually I give a patronizing smile to people who read self-help books, much less if they post the photo of it on soc-meds with captions that’s trying so hard to sound thoughtful.

I came across someone’s blog and she reviewed the book, I skimmed the review but zoomed the photos of quotes in the book. The quotes punched me on the face, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started”. That was my dilemma at that time. For a long time, I was in the state  when I always delayed to start something just because I was either procrastinating or thinking too much, waiting for the perfect moment to start, which never comes unless I start.

First, I laughed at the book title, clearly it’s a self-help book for creative people. FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE, that’s why I cringed. Why would creative people need a self-help book to be creative? They’re creative people. And now I know, that’s why we need it, because we get too cocky sometimes that we can always find ways by ourselves. Which is true. I always eventually find ways and answers, but I hope I’d found them earlier. Why couldn’t I find them earlier? Because nobody told me how and what.

None in my family has a creative soul, they don’t even believe in it. My parents of course never have been in many hesitations that I’ve been through. So I can’t rely guidance from them. My friends are just the same.

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Hence Austin Kleon’s book feels like an uncle that I need in a form of a book. He knows what to say because he’s been through it. I was down when my project at that time didn’t turn out to be what I had planned, expected before. It made me feel useless that I am no good. Talking with a close friends for an hour and my boyfriend tried to cheer me up too. But it didn’t make the sadness disappear fully. In just 30 mins reading the book, it boosted my confidence again.

The book is less than 150 pages, light, you can finish in one single sitting. It’s well-written, the structure makes it easy to follow and on-point ideas, no rambling, repetitive explanation. To avoid making it boring, it’s filled with doodles that fresh up your eyes and makes it feel less lecturing. It’s a reminder book, meaning I read this book whenever I need an uncle to cheer me up and give me solutions. Kleon’s must know it that people read the book more than once, hence he made it a quick reading and straight forward. So that doesn’t take much of people’s time.

I recommend this book, especially for creative people. Whenever you feel like you want to quit, read it. Because this book makes you want to sit alone and produce something. Admit it, we all need help.

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