Austin Kleon: “Steal like an Artist” | Talks at Google


>>female speaker: Thank you for joining us
at the Google, Authors at Google event today. And we have here with us Austin Kleon and
it’s my pleasure to introduce him. He, this is his second book he’s here to talk
about, “Stealing Like an Artist”. And his first book was “Newspaper Blackout”.
And it was a huge success. And here he is, I’ll let him do the talking.
So please welcome. [Applause]
>>Austin Kleon: Thanks y’all. Thanks for coming.
It’s a sunny day in San Francisco and lovely outside.
So I really appreciate it. So I like to start out all of my talks saying
that all advice is autobiographical. It’s one of my theories that when people give
you advice they’re actually just talking to themselves in the past.
And this book actually is a book in which I am talking to a previous version of myself.
I wrote it all down as if I could stick it in a time machine and send it to the 19-year-old
me. And the thing I always like to say is YMMV,
your mileage may vary. There are no rules.
You take what you need and you leave the rest. As the man said.
Before I talk about “Steal”, I wanted to just talk about, talk quickly about my first book
“Newspaper Blackout”. “Newspaper Blackout” started in 2005 when
I was right out of college and I was facing a horrible case of what we call writer’s block.
I would sit at my desk all day and stare at that Microsoft Word screen and the little
cursor would just kind of blink at me like it was taunting me.
And writing had once been a great joy for me.
It had once been a great amount of fun and now it wasn’t fun anymore.
So one day I was sitting at my desk and I looked at the recycle bin and I noticed a
huge stack of newspapers. And I thought to myself, I don’t have any
words and right there next to me are millions of them.
So I thought it might be okay if I stole a couple.
This is what I did, I took one of the markers I used for drawing and I started making boxes
around interesting words that jumped out at me.
And I started connecting those words into little phrases and funny sayings.
And when I was done I blacked out everything I didn’t need.
And this is kind of what they look like after I scan them into the computer and play with
the levels a little bit. It almost looks like as if the CIA did haikus.
And I called them newspaper blackouts. And slowly, ever so slowly over time I would
post them to my blog or in my blog and they would get mentioned from other blogs and kinda
spread around the Internet. And eventually we collected them in the first
collection of “Newspaper Blackout”. And that came out about two years ago.
So I really thought I was ripping off the government.
That’s John Lennon’s FBI file on the left and a blackout poem on the right.
But as happens on the Internet when you put your stuff out there, you hear from your readers.
And I got a lot of e-mails and comments from readers telling me just how unoriginal my
idea actually was. And the fella they pointed to the most was
the brilliant British artist Tom Phillips. In the mid-60s Tom Phillips walked into a
bookstore, picked up the first book he could find for three pence and took it home and
he started marking the pages much like I do in “Newspaper Blackout”.
And he’s actually done this for 40 years. And his work is incredibly ornate, some of
the pages get very beautiful and colorful and they are very intense.
And the project is called a humument if you want to look that up later.
So the funny thing was I started doing some research into Tom Phillips.
And it turns out that he actually got the idea from reading a 1965 Paris review.
A review with the writer William Burroughs. Burroughs was talking about his cutup method
of writing in which he took a piece of existing text, cut into pieces and then rearranged
them so he got new combinations of text. And he called that the cutup method.
What was interesting when I started researching Burroughs is I found out that he actually
got the idea from his buddy Brion Gysin. Brion Gysin was preparing a canvas for one
of his paintings and he sliced through a stack of newspapers and he saw the way the strips
looked and the different word combinations that came out from rearranging those strips.
And what he thought was this might be an interesting method of making poetry.
But the more research I did, the more I found out that there was actually a fellow who had
made poetry from the newspaper even before then.
Tristan Tzara in the 1930s. He walked up in a Paris theater with a hat
and a newspaper, cut up the newspaper into pieces put the pieces in the hat and pulled
them out one by one and read them as if they were a poem.
I traced things all the way back to the 1700s. To a neighbor of Benjamin Franklins called
Caleb Whitefoord. And what Whitefoord would do, back in those
days the newspaper was very new so the columns were very skinny and the text small.
So what Caleb Whitefoord would do is he would sit in the pub with his buddies and he would
read the newspaper allowed but he wouldn’t read the columns top to bottom he would read
across the columns. And he would get all kinds of funny combinations
and new juxtapositions. So not only was my idea totally unoriginal
it turns out there’s a 250-year-old history of finding poetry in the newspaper.
But instead of getting depressed. Instead of stopping there I decided to keep
on and steal everything I could from those people that had come before me.
And that is where the second book comes into play.
Every artist gets asked the question where do you get your ideas.
And the honest artist answers “I steal them.” How does an artist look at the world?
Well first you figure out what’s worth stealing. And then you move onto the next thing.
That’s about all there is to it. And when you look at the world this way you
stop worrying about what’s good and what’s bad.
There is only stuff worth stealing and stuff not worth stealing.
Someone once asked David Bowie if he thought himself to be an original.
And he said, “No, not at all I’m more like a tasteful thief”.
He said that the only art he’ll ever study is the stuff that he can steal from.
Everything in the world is up for grabs with this worldview.
If you don’t find something worth stealing today you might find it worth stealing tomorrow
or a month or a year from now. The writer Jonathan Lethem, he has said that
when people call something original 9 times out of 10 they just don’t know the references
or the original source material involved. There was another writer who said, “What is
originality? Undetected plagiarism.” What a good artist understands is that nothing
comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before.
Nothing is completely original. This itself is actually not a new idea.
It’s right there in the Bible. Ecclesiastes chapter 1 verse 9.
“That which has been is what will be done and there is nothing new under the sun.”
Now some people find this idea completely depressing.
But for me it’s always filled me with hope. As a French writer Andre Gide put it, “Everything
that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening the first time
everything must be said again.” See I think if we are free of the burden of
trying to be completely original we can stop trying to make something out of nothing and
we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.
See I have this idea that every new idea is just a remix or a mash up of one or more previous
ideas. And this is a little trick they teach you
in art school, you can play along if you want to.
You draw a line on a piece of paper. And then you draw another line parallel to
it. Well how many lines are there on the paper?
At first you think there’s two, there’s the first line you drew and there’s a second line
you drew. But then if you look in between them, there
is a line of negative space running in between them.
One plus one sometimes equals three. And here’s an example of what I’m talking
about. Genetics.
You have a mother and you have a father. You possess features from both of them but
the sum of you [Video Skip] You’re a remix of your Mom and Dad and all
of your ancestors. And just as you have a family genealogy you
also have a genealogy of ideas. We don’t get to pick our families but we can
pick our teachers. And we can pick our friends.
And we can pick the music that we listen to. And the books that we read.
And we can pick the movies we see. Jay Z actually talks about this in his really
great book “Decoded”. And I’m gonna read you a passage from that.
He says, “We were kids without fathers so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets
and in history. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who
would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves.”
See you are in fact a mash-up of what you let into your life.
You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe says, “We are shaped
and fashioned by what we love.” I actually think, I think human beings are
collectors but I think artists are especially. Not hoarders mind you.
There is a difference. You see hoarders collect indiscriminately
and artists collect selectively. They only collect the things that they really
love. There’s also this economic theory out there
that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and you average them the resolving
number will be pretty close to your own income. Well I actually think this is true of our
idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff
that you surround yourself with. My mother used to have this phrase, she used
to say, “Garbage can and garbage out.” And it used to drive me insane.
But now I know what she meant. Our job as creative folks is to collect ideas.
And the more ideas you collect the more you can choose from to be influenced by.
The filmmaker Jim Jarmusch this is what he says you should steal.
And this is kind of a long passage I’m gonna read it because I think it’s really great.
He says, “Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.
Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random
conversation, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light
and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak
directly to your soul. If you do this, your work and your theft will
be authentic.” Now Marcel Duchamp he said, “I don’t believe
in art. I believe in artists.” I think this is actually a pretty good method
for studying your discipline. If you try to devour the history of what he
do all at once, you’re gonna choke. So I think the best thing to do is to start
chewing on one thinker you really love. Completely saturate yourself with their work.
Study everything there is to know about that thinker.
And then you find three thinkers that influenced your favorite thinker.
And find out everything you can about them. And you repeat this as many times as you can.
You build your own family tree and then you climb it as far up as you can go.
And then once you build your own family tree it’s time to start your own branch.
See I think seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone when
you start making your own work. I actually hang pictures of my favorite artists
in my studio and a lot of them are dead so they’re almost like friendly ghosts kind of
urging me forward in my work. It’s a lot less creepy than it sounds.
The great thing about dead teachers is they can’t refuse you as a student.
You can learn whatever you want from them, they left their lesson plans in their work.
And I also think it’s really important to school yourself because school is one thing
and education is another. The two don’t always overlap.
The RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, I once listened to him on Fresh Air which was strange enough
but he said this really brilliant thing. He said, “Rather I went to school or not I
would always study.” And that’s the key, whether we are in school
or not it’s always our job to get our own education.
You have to be curious about the world in which you live.
You have to look things up, chase down every reference.
Go deeper than anybody else. That’s how you’ll get ahead.
And I promise I didn’t make this slide especially for y’all here at Google.
I think you have to Google everything. I mean everything.
Google your dreams. Google your problems.
I don’t ever ask anyone a question before I Google it.
I either find the answer or I come up with a better question.
And I like to say there are no stupid questions there are only “You couldn’t Google that?”
questions. Always be reading.
Go to the library there’s magic in being surrounded by books.
Books are the cheapest easiest way to steal ideas.
And there’s magic in being surrounded by them. Get lost in the stacks, read bibliographies.
It’s not the books you start with it’s the book that book leads you to.
Collect books even if you don’t plan on reading them right away.
The filmmaker John Waters, he says “There’s nothing more important than an unread library.”
And you have to have a way to save your thefts for later.
I recommend that everyone carry a notebook and a pen with you wherever you go.
Paper doesn’t crash. You don’t have to charge paper.
Get used to pulling it out and jotting down your thoughts and observations.
Copy your favorite passages out of books. Record overheard conversations.
Doodle when you’re on the phone. I also have this theory that artists need
pockets, creative people need pockets. The artist David Hockney, he actually had
all his suit coats tailored so he could fit a sketchbook in there.
And the, the other advise that you have to keep in mind with pockets is that you always
want to check your pockets for ideas before you do the laundry.
[Chuckles]>>Austin Kleon: Keep a swipe file.
A swipe file is just what it sounds like a file to keep track of the stuff you swipe
from others. It can be digital or analog.
It doesn’t matter what form it takes as long as it works.
You can keep a scrapbook, cut and paste things into it.
Or you can just take pictures with your camera phone.
See something worth stealing put it in the swipe file.
Need a little inspiration, open up your swipe file.
Newspaper reporters they actually call this a morgue file.
And I like that idea even better because you’re morgue file is where you put all the dead
stuff that you’re gonna reanimate later in your work.
In the end you don’t want to feel bad about your theft, always keep in mind Mark Twain’s
advice. He said, “It is better to take what does not
belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.” And I also think it’s really important after
you start on your path to creative thievery to not wait until you know who you are to
get started doing your work. If I had waited to know who I was or what
I was about before I started being creative well I’d still be sitting around trying to
figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making
things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.
Were all ready, let’s start making stuff. You might be scared to start and that’s natural.
There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people and it’s called imposter
syndrome. Now the clinical definition of imposter syndrome
is it’s a psychological phenomenon in which people see, in which people are unable to
internalize their accomplishments. But what it really means is it means you feel
like a phony. Like you are just winging it.
That you really have no idea what you’re doing. Well guess what, nobody does.
Ask anyone doing truly creative work and they’ll tell you the truth.
They don’t necessarily know where the good stuff comes from.
They just show up and do their thing every day.
There’s this word called dramaturgy. And it’s actually a fancy term for something
William Shakespeare spelled out in his play “As You Like It”, about 400 years ago.
He said this. He said, “All the world’s a stage and all
the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances and one
man in his time plays many parts.” Another way to say this, “Fake it till you
make it.” I actually love this phrase.
There are two ways to read the phrase “fake it till you make it”.
One, pretend to be something you’re not until you are.
Fake it until you’re successful, until everybody sees you the way you want them to.
Or number two, pretend to be making something until you actually make something.
I actually love both readings, you have to dress for the job you want not the job you
have. And you have to start doing the work that
you really want to be doing. I also love this book by Patti Smith called
“Just Kids”. It’s a story about how two friends who wanted
to be artists moved to New York City and became artists.
And you know how they learned to be artists? They pretended to be artists.
And my favorite scene from the book, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, they go down
to Washington Sq. Park in New York and they’re dressed in their Gypsy gear.
And everybody’s hanging out and this old tourist couple comes by and starts gawking at them.
And the woman, she taps her husband on the arm and she says, “Robert take their picture
I think they’re artists.” And the husband says, “Ah get out of here
they’re just kids.” That’s where the book gets his title.
The point is that all the world is a stage. Creative work is actually a kind of theatre.
The stage is the studio, your desk or your workstation.
The costume is your outfit your painting pants, your business suit or that funny hat that
helps you think. Your props are your tools and your material.
A laptop. This script is just plain old time an hour
here, an hour there, just time measured out for things to happen.
That’s what a script is. And the best way I know of going about faking
it till you make it is to start copying. Now nobody is born with the style or a voice.
We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are.
In the beginning we learn by pretending to be our heroes.
We learn by copying. Now we’re talking about practice here, not
plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work and
trying to pass it off as your own. Copying is about reverse engineering.
It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.
We learned to write by copying the alphabet. Musicians learn to play by practicing scales.
Painters learn to paint by copying the masters. And even the masters started out learning
by copying. Even the Beatles started out as a cover band.
Paul McCartney has said, “I emulated Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis,
we all did.” And McCartney and his partner John Lennon
only became one of the greatest songwriting teams in history when they started writing
their own songs as a way to keep other bands from copying their set.
The Beatles knew what Salvador Dali knew which is, “Those who do not want to imitate anything
produced nothing.” Now copying.
First you have to figure out who to copy. And second you have to figure out what to
copy. Now who to copy is actually very easy, you
copy your heroes. The people you love, the people you’re inspired
by, the people you want to be. The songwriter Nick Lowe he say, “You start
out by rewriting your heroes catalog.” Now, and the other important thing about who
to copy from. You don’t just steal from one of your heroes
you steal from all of them. The playwright Wilson Mizner he said, “If
you copy from one author its plagiarism. If you copy from many it’s research.”
And the cartoonist Gary Panter has said something very similar he says, “If you have one person
you’re influenced by everyone will say you’re the next whoever.
But if you rip off 100 people everyone will say you’re so original.”
What to copy is a little bit trickier. You don’t just want to steal someone’s style,
you want to steal the thinking behind the style.
You don’t want to just steal the code, you want to steal the thinking behind the code.
And you don’t want to look like your heroes you actually want to see like your heroes.
The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so you might somehow get a glimpse inside
their minds. That’s which you really want.
To internalize their way of looking at the world.
If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they were
coming from your work will never be any more than a knockoff.
T.S. Eliot said it best. He said, “Poets steal.”
He said, “Bad poets deface what they take and good poets make it into something better
or at least something different.” I’m actually going to end off with a quote
from Francis Ford Coppola. He said, “We want you to take from us.
We want you at first to steal from us because you can’t steal.
You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you
will find your voice. And that’s how you begin.
And one day someone will steal from you.” And that’s the beginning of “Steal Like an
Artist.” Thank you.
[Applause] So does anyone have any questions?
If you can. Yeah, just hope up to the mike ’cause we’re
recording.>>male #1: Did you have this idea before you
ran into the issue or the people coming to you telling you that someone had already done
your newsprint idea? Or was this something that was before, after?
How did you get this idea?>>Austin Kleon: Yeah, that’s a great, that’s
a great question. I think, you know I think the idea of influence
was kind of on my mind. Especially ’cause I was actually taking writing
from someone else and turning it into something new.
But this really came out of. I am a meticulous, not a meticulous, I’m a
voracious quote collector. And I was shocked by how many of my favorite
artists. Woody Allen, you know not even artists.
Someone like Steve Jobs or I even heard the basketball player Kobe Bryant.
All of these folks would admit that they stole their moves.
They stole their ideas. And that they actually used that word steal.
And so this whole idea of stealing like an artist actually came out of collecting those
quotes. And I started this series of blog quotes called
“25 quotes to help you steal like an artist.” And that’s actually where the gem of the idea
started. And then there’s been some really brilliant
writing on the subject. I remember reading Jonathan Lethem’s “The
Ecstasy of Influence.” It was a plagiarism in Harpers.
Where he actually took, he made an essay on plagiarism out of plagiarized passages from
other writers. And there’s a really great video series called
“Everything is a Remix” by Kirby Ferguson where Kirby talks about a lot of this stuff.
And I’ve actually had the pleasure of doing a panel with Kirby and we’ve become friends.
So there’s just all, this has always been. This has always been in the air.
There is just something about it kind of coming to a head now.
You know culturally. But yeah it definitely came out of a combination
of quote collecting and then kind of responding to the you know accusations that people would
make about my work. And how I actually felt about that work ’cause
I had to make a decision very early on. Do I continue to do this work even though
it’s similar to something someone’s done 40 years ago or do I keep, do I keep going?
Do I keep pushing myself to transform the work into something new?
Like I found myself wanting to write. You know I like to write poems that people
actually want to read. So like when I think about William Burroughs
you know sometimes I have trouble with his stuff.
And I think like what makes, I want to take this avant-garde technique and actually make
a poem that like a grandma would want to read. You know so it’s.
That’s the name of the game. You know you kind of like know your history
and you know what people have done before and then you figure out the void to fill.
Are there any other questions?>>male #2: At what point have you thought
that presenting a show or presenting something becomes a shtick more so than it becomes art?
In other words, the idea of spontaneity I think you know writers block and this concept
that you just, the epiphany has to happen and it has to flow from there.
But actually artists who then are able to continue to make art because they’ve established
careers have to get to a point often times where they are presenting in public scenarios.
And there’s a certain commercial intersection there.
>>Austin Kleon: Yeah.>>male #2: So one time when kind of my spontaneous
virginity was lost is I was working the entertainment industry and I happened to see Lenny Kravitz
perform multiple times. And the way in which he would interact with
the audience at first seemed like he was completely spontaneous.
And then after seeing him four times over the course of a year you know there were variations
of that, but essentially he had a shtick much like a lead.
>>Austin Kleon: Yeah>>male #2: And at first it was kind of an
affront. And then I realize there’s nothing wrong with
that because it actually comes from something that he believes in.
But for so long I played music for a while, it was the idea of the spontaneity was so
key. The idea artistry
>>Austin Kleon: Yeah. You know spontaneity, it’s a personality thing
to. I mean I am someone who doing the same presentation
over and over is ridiculously hard for me. And I have to constantly remind myself every
time I give a talk that you know the audience hasn’t heard this before.
But there’s something about a book tour in particular that makes you start really loathing
yourself. I mean you really, nothing makes you more
conscious of yourself than being like photographed and then like filmed and then having to listen
to your own voice every night you know. But I think what you said was really cool
is that like as long as it comes from a place of something you really believe in.
‘Cause I really do believe in the stuff you know.
This isn’t just like something that I’ve researched that I’ve seen the Zeitgeist.
Like this all comes out of my private practice. And like I said this is something I wish I
would’ve heard when I was younger you know. So I think there are moments when you can
capture spontaneity. I mean especially in like book tour situations
that’s what a Q&A is for. Because you just never know what people are
gonna ask. And that’s actually a really fun part for
me. Like that’s when I get kind of jazzed.
Because I love, much like. That’s why I find the Internet so wonderful.
‘Cause like as an artist I mean. As a writer in particular the cool thing about
the Internet is that readers become writers because they read your stuff and they write
back to you. And then you become the reader.
And there’s this kind of like back-and-forth that keeps happening.
That’s actually the kind of spontaneity. I never know what kind of e-mail someone is
gonna send me. I never know what someone is gonna tweet at
me. So that keeps things like really interesting
for me.>>male #3: Are there projects you’re working
on now or planning to start that you can talk about yet?
>>Austin Kleon: Yeah. So the last, the penultimate chapter in my
book has a section called “Marry well.” And when I was a young.
When I was a younger artist, I consider myself still young.
But when I was a younger artist a lot of my favorite artists were actually pretty miserable
human beings. And not particularly good fathers or good
husbands. And it’s always been a personal, now this
is a personal belief of mine. Is that the world needs more, the world needs
better human beings more than it needs great artists.
And I think that a human being’s responsibility first is to be a good human being and then
you worry about being a good artist. So along that theme there’s a section in the
penultimate chapter called “Marry well.” And I’ve been married for about five years
and I love my wife and she’s a collaborator. And she’s, I run all my ideas through her
first. So actually really want to do a book on creativity
and marriage. And thinking about marriage as a creative
collaboration. So I think that’s what’s next for me.
But we’ll see what happens. Any other questions?
>>female #1: Hi. First of all I wanted to say thank you for
coming I really enjoyed the time and it’s really inspirational.
>>Austin Kleon: Oh thanks for having me, this is a blast.
I mean you know it’s, this is what I love to do so thanks so much for having me here.
>>female #1: I really like the idea that you mention about just copying other people and
using it as a starting point for creating your own work.
But it seems like that’s kind of the first step and then after that you still need to
build a career up to that and break into a market that’s really in high demand right
now. So what advice would you give for someone
trying to break into that kind of market.>>Austin Kleon: Yeah
So you are absolutely right. Copying is the starting point.
If you’ll allow me, I’ll use a basketball metaphor.
So Kobe Bryant, he talks about. Kobe Bryant is a really interesting basketball
player because he’s one of the first generations that could actually watch tapes of other basketball
players playing. And they had like highlight reels and stuff.
So Kobe Bryant talks about how he would copy. He would watch these heroes of his and then
he would remember their moves. And that when he got on the court he would
try to copy the moves. But what he found was that he didn’t have
the same body type as a lot of these guys. And he didn’t have the same teammates in the
same context. So what he had to do was adapt those moves
into something that was actually his own. Now what I think copying does for us is for
one thing it shows us our shortcomings. Like ’cause you always fall short of your
heroes. But what’s interesting is the shortcoming
is almost what you’re really good at. Like that thing that you are not.
The thing that you don’t quite attain by copying your heroes, it’s almost because you are built
this other way and you need to figure out what your move is.
So I actually think the best thing to do is to survey.
Is to do exactly what you said. It’s to, use survey the history of your discipline.
You survey what people are doing. And then you figure out, there’s a couple
of ways to make your own mark. Like I think one thing to do is just to think
about what your heroes didn’t make. What did they not get to that you could get
to? What if you got four of your heroes in a room
and they collaborated on something, what would it look like?
Like what would they make you know? And there is also, what if you took what your
hero did and stuck it in another discipline like another context?
Like what would Andy Warhol code? What would Stephen King paint?
You know so there’s all kinds of like little, I call them like little game, idea games.
Like little idea generator games that you can play.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie “The Player”.
But it’s about Hollywood and that everyone in that movie is like, “It’s like Citizen
Kane meets Jaws”. And they have these like kind of a combinations
of ideas. But I actually think that can be really helpful
for your own creative work if you can be like. Like for me personally I was like well my
work I wanted to be, not that it’s like this but I want it to be like if Kurt Vonnegut
in and Linda Barry hung out in southern Ohio and wrote a book.
You know or something like that. And I play those idea games and I think like
what would that look like? And I go and make that thing you know.
Any other questions? Cool.>>male #4: So I definitely really liked the
message that you have about really taking the time to you know figure out what you enjoy
and what you’re passionate about. The thing though is that we get so caught
up in our own daily lives in short term that it seems like it takes a lot of discipline
to really think beyond the narrow boundaries of your daily life.
So what are some techniques that you have to force yourself to make the time?
Do you schedule some time on like Saturday morning?
>>Austin Kleon: Yeah.>>male #4: Like what you make yourself go
to a certain place?>>Austin Kleon: Well man you really nailed
it. It’s about time.
And I actually have a chapter in the book called “Be boring.”
And people hate that when they first hear it because their like wait, be boring like
that’s not how you’re creative. But I’ve actually found that time management
for me personally has been the most important thing as far as like doing the thinking and
getting the work done. Because like I’ve worked day jobs my whole
life up until this point. And I wrote my first book on my commute to
and from work. And in the basement on my lunch break.
That’s when I wrote “Newspaper Blackout”. I actually, and this book I wrote when I was
a copywriter. I actually recommend everybody’s got different
times when they’re more creative. Like some people are night people.
Some, I don’t know anyone who’s an afternoon person but some people are morning people.
I actually recommend to young folks who have day jobs, but they have like passion projects
that they want to work on. I say if you can swing it, become a morning
person because you wake up early and you sit down and you get a good hour or an hour and
a half in. And then when you go to your day job you’ve
already got that out of the way. They can’t take that out of you, you know
’cause it takes a lot of energy to do good work.
And I’m sure employers don’t like it when I say this but you know I think if you can
get the work you want to be doing, you really want to be doing out of the way in the morning.
Then you know they can’t take it from you for the rest of the day.
So that’s my advice. You just schedule that time you know.
You just have to be real. That’s the cool thing is like if you schedule
a time and a place that’s the only boring part about it.
Then when you’re in that time and your place you can be as crazy as you want.
You just have to schedule your craziness. Well this has been really great and I thank
y’all for having me. [applause]

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