This is the follow up book from Steal Like an Artist and, like that earlier book, has some excellent points for creative people to think about. It encourages sharing what you do with others and realistically address some of the barriers that are often self-imposed.
Here are some of my takeaways from reading it:
“The stupidest creative act is still a creative act,” writes Clay Shirky in his book Cognitive Surplus. “On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.” Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.
The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others….Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.
Become a documentarian of what you do. Start a work journal: Write your thoughts down in a notebook, or speak them into an audio recorder. Keep a scrapbook. Take a lot of photographs of your work at different stages in your process. Shoot video of you working. This isn’t about making art, it’s about simply keeping track of what’s going on around you. Take advantage of all the cheap, easy tools at your disposal—these days, most of us carry a fully functional multimedia studio around in our smartphones. Whether you share it or not, documenting and recording your process as you go along has its own rewards: You’ll start to see the work you’re doing more clearly and feel like you’re making progress. And when you’re ready to share, you’ll have a surplus of material to choose from.
Overnight success is a myth. Dig into almost every overnight success story and you’ll find about a decade’s worth of hard work and perseverance. Building a substantial body of work takes a long time—a lifetime, really—but thankfully, you don’t need that time all in one big chunk. So forget about decades, forget about years, and forget about months. Focus on days.
Social media sites function a lot like public notebooks – they’re places where we think out loud, let other people think back at us, then hopefully think some more.
Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine. Online, you can become the person you really want to be. Fill your website with your work and your ideas and the stuff you care about. Whether people show up or they don’t, your out there, doing your thing, ready whenever they are.
Where do you get your inspiration? What sorts of things do you fill your head with? What do you read? Do you subscribe to anything? What sites do you visit on the Internet? What music do you listen to? What movies do you see? Do you look at art? What do you collect? What’s inside your scrapbook? What do you pin to the corkboard above your desk? What do you stick on your refrigerator? Who’s done work that you admire? Who do you steal ideas from? Do you have any heroes? Who do you follow online? Who are the practitioners you look up to in your field?
Words matter…Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.
The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others….As blogger Kathy Sierra says “Make people better at something they want to be better at.”
Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.
Remember what writer Colin Marshall says: “Compulsive avoidance of embarrassment is a form of suicide.” If you spend your life avoiding vulnerability, you and your work will never truly connect with other people.
If an opportunity comes along that will allow you to do more of the kind of work you want to do, say Yes. If an opportunity comes along that would mean more money, but less of the kind of work you want to do, say No.
You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.
It’s very important not to quit prematurely.
If you look to artists who’ve managed to achieve lifelong careers, you detect the same pattern: They all have been able to persevere, regardless of success or failure.