Steal like an artist – part 9 & 10


Art theory Steal like an Artist



9. Be boring (it’s the only way to get work done)

Take care of yourself

It takes energy to be creative, and being sick, stressed, strung out, or tired.
My health has been an utter bloody shambles these last few years, but I’m solving the problems one-by-one. I won’t ever be well-well, but I’m upright and functional, with a greater appreciation of how it feels when all the wheels come off and a determination never to go back there.

Stay out of debt

Bit late for this, what with student debt and a mortgage, but (rightly or wrongly), I differentiate those debts from debts accrued by having too much month left at the end of the money. I’m fortunate to not have to worry about money right now, but I still try to live like I did when I was earning entry-level wages in a startup company in a basement, not out of some self-imposed asceticism but because I remember having to choose between dry boots, a boiler service and food, and I don’t want to go back there, either.

Keep your day job

There are several reasons to keep a day job, not just money (but the money’s important).
Routine, connection to the world and other people, and freedom to do what you want with your art. Use what you learn in your job to enhance your not-work life, and build a routine that allows you to be creative. Work gets done in the time available

Get yourself a calendar

A body of work is the accumulation of small bits of effort.
A body of work is the accumulation of small bits of effort. 
A body of work is the accumulation of small bits of effort.  
20-30 minutes of work, 500 words, whatever the smallest unit of work is, every day will get me where I need to go.
Kleon proposes the X-Effect, which I know of, but need to get serious about. Today is the first day of he rest of your life and all that. Let’s go.

Keep a logbook

Look forward to future events, but also keep track of the past. Keep track of how far you’ve come.
I have a bullet journal, but I need to keep it better. I already track what I’m grateful for, but I could also ask myself “What’s the best thing that happened today?”.

Marry well 

A good partner supports your dreams and keeps you grounded.
I reckon that this is the garbage in, garbage out of people again. Find relationships (emotional, romantic, sexual) that fulfil, sustain and support you, and ditch ones that drag you down or make you feel small.
And, I would argue, you don’t even have to marry; all relationships are important and I don’t like the cultural emphasis on marriage as the be-all and end-all of emotional connections. One person can’t sustain you emotionally or intellectually.

10. Creativity is subtraction

Choose what to leave out

I often have trouble knowing my limits and, despite reading Essentialism last year, I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet and I appear to insist on taking on a hundred projects at a time. Time for a re-read, I think.
Kleon advocates using limitations to spur creativity, which is a solution to a different problem, but worth bearing in mind when the well runs dry. Working within limitations – financial, material – can bring out our most creative solutions (although ‘d say that, in my experience, chronological constraints tend not to bring out my best work). In his Ideation Lab, Sterling Hundley talks about a “three sided box”, where a concept is bounded on three sides by a deadline, physical dimensions and concept, but that constraint gives creativity room to grow.

What now?

  • Take a walk
  • Start a morgue file
  • Go to the library (do the ‘role model family tree’-thing)
  • Buy a notebook and use it
  • Get a calendar
  • Start a logbook
  • Give a copy of this book away (nice upsell; does this series count?)
  • Start a blog
  • Take a nap