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Just Like Austin Kleon’s previous books, Steal Like an Artist & Show Your Work!, this will not disappoint. A pleasant and effective mix of art, guidance, and life lessons.

Recommendation: 5/5


My Highlights

“None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.” —Laurie Anderson

The creative life is not linear. It’s not a straight line from point A to point B. It’s more like a loop, or a spiral, in which you keep coming back to a new starting point after every project.

We have so little control over our lives. The only thing we can really control is what we spend our days on. What we work on and how hard we work on it.

The creative journey is not one in which you’re crowned the triumphant hero and live happily ever after. The real creative journey is one in which you wake up every day…with more work to do.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” —Annie Dillard

“Relying on craft and routine is a lot less sexy than being an artistic genius. But it is an excellent strategy for not going insane.” —Christoph Niemann

A daily routine will get you through the day and help you make the most of it. “A schedule defends from chaos and whim,” writes Annie Dillard. “It is a net for catching days.” When you don’t know what to do next, your routine tells you.

Rather than restricting your freedom, a routine gives you freedom by protecting you from the ups and downs of life and helping you take advantage of your limited time, energy, and talent. A routine establishes good habits that can lead to your best work.

“A list is a collection with purpose,”…

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It’s hard to find anything to say about life without immersing yourself in the world, but it’s also just about impossible to figure out what it might be, or how to best say it, without getting the hello out of it again.” —Tim Kreider

Creativity is about connection—you must be connected to others in order to be inspired and share your own work—but it is also about disconnection.

“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds and makes of all political and social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning, we cannot begin to see. Unless we see, we cannot think.” —Thomas Merton

“You have to have done something before you can be said to have done something. The title of artist or architect or musician needs to somehow be earned.” —Dave Hickey

Let go of the thing that you’re trying to be (the noun), and focus on the actual work you need to be doing (the verb). Doing the verb will take you someplace further and far more interesting.

You can’t wait around for someone to call you an artist before you make art. You’ll never make it.

Play is the work of the child and it is also the work of the artist.

If you’ve lost your playfulness, practice for practice’s sake.

“No artist can work simply for results; he must also like the work of getting them.” —Robert Farrar Capon

You never know when a gift made for a single person will turn into a gift for the whole world.

Making gifts puts us in touch with our gifts.

“For anyone trying to discern what to do with their life: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU PAY ATTENTION TO. That’s pretty much all the info you need.” —Amy Krouse Rosenthal

What you choose to pay attention to is the stuff your life and work will be made of.

If you want to change your life, change what you pay attention to. “We give thing meaning by paying attention to them,” Jessa Crispin writes, “and so moving your attention from one thing to another can absolutely change your future.”

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald


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