Take-away Tuesday


These two little books by Austin Kleon are a quick read that I enjoyed reading during the Slice of Life Story Challenge. In both books, the writing style is structured and informative while the artwork is fun and whimsical. Kleon is also the author of Newspaper Blackout where I got the inspiration for my post from Sunday.

In Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, all I could think about was the connection to what we teachers and writers use, mentor texts. Basically, Kleon advocates that you get your inspiration and creativity from those around you, but then make it your own.

Here are some of my take-aways from Steal Like an ArtistShow Your Work:

  • Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.
  • An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artist collect selectively.
  • Carry a notebook and a pen with you wherever you go. Get used to pulling it out and jotting down your thoughts and observations. Copy your favorite passages out of books. Record over heard conversations. Doodle when you’re on the phone.
  • Keep a swipe file. It’s just what it sounds like-a file to keep track of the stuff you’ve swiped from others. See something worth stealing? Put it in the swipe file. Need a little inspiration? Open up the swipe file.
  • Keep two desks. One is an “analog” desk and one is a “digital” desk. The analog desk contains markers, pens, pens, paper, etc. The digital desk houses the computer and other devices.
  • Surround your self with books and objects you love. Tape things to the wall and create your own world.
  • Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another place among people that think differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brain works harder.
  • “The trick is not caring what everybody thinks of you and just caring about what the right people think of you.” ~Brian Michael Bendis
  • You can’t count on success; you can only leave open the possibility for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.

So there you go! If you need to add another book to your never ending stack of books to read, you should definitely grab both of these.

Happy Reading!


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14 thoughts on “Take-away Tuesday

  1. Thanks for the recommendations, Amy! My to-be-read pile is already towering, but I’ll gladly balance these atop the pile. Did you know that Austin Kleon has a weekly newsletter? I subscribe but admit I don’t often read it. (I’m overwhelmed by e-mails!!!) When I do, though, I’m always glad I did. You’ve reminded me to make more of an effort.

    • I hear you! I can’t handle any more book recommendations. Kleon does say in his book STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, “Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.” I don’t need any more emails either but I’m off to sign up to receive them. Thanks, Molly!

  2. Amy, thank you for your recommendations and for taking the time to list your take aways from both books. Writing every day is a challenge for me, but I see now (from your list) that even my notebook jottings count! I do go to them and my “swipe list” (love that term) for inspiration for longer pieces. Again, your slice gets me thinking.

  3. So much great advice in this post.

    Loved this especially:
    You can’t count on success; you can only leave open the possibility for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.

  4. A great list of tips, Amy! I like the idea of keeping a swipe file for inspiration and spending time in a place you do not usually frequent to observe and gather ideas. I think that suggestion really spoke to me!

  5. Definitely useful tips, Amy. I do like number 1. I am a strong believer in “adapt don’t adopt”. Things work out much better if you take an idea and tweak it to fit you needs than in you try to do something just like someone else,

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