Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Creative Life: Retrospective

Technique Tuesday

Motivated by Austin Kleon's advice to, "Steal Like an Artist," we've
examined the creative life from the framework of the ten, "Things Nobody Told Me." As Kleon explains, "It’s a simple list of 10 things I wish I’d heard when I was in college."

Here's the list:
  1. Steal Like an Artist
  2. Don't Wait Until You Know Who You Are to Make Things
  3. Write the Book You Want to Read
  4. Use Your Hands
  5. Side Projects and Hobbies are Important
  6. Do Good Work Then Put it Where People Can See it
  7. Geography is No Longer our Master
  8. Be Nice. The World is a Small Town
  9. Be Boring
  10. Creativity is Subtraction  
In retrospect, we see themes like be genuine, positive, and pleasant; be disciplined; and be confident. But the notion I think best sums up Kleon's perspective on the creative life is humility.

Now many people, particularly in a world that lionizes out-of-control celebrities, philandering sports stars, and ruthless captains of industry, hear humility as more of a character flaw than a virtue. And who can blame the children of an age of relentless self-promotion.

True humility, however is about perspective not abasement. While it's true that we're put in our place when we realize we're only a small part of the world, the other side of the proverbial coin is that we are a part of the world and have a place in it.

So, what is the essence of humility in creativity?

Kleon gets it down to two steps:
Step 1: Wonder at something. 
Step 2: Invite others to wonder with you.


Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net