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Steal Like a Writer in 10 Steps

In a brilliant "remix of the ideas of Steal Like an Artist", Austin Kleon shares how to "Steal Like a Writer". I really enjoyed the original (which I keep visible on my desk!), but this might be better - at least for me. I don't think I'll ever be an artist, but its not too much of a stretch to relate to advice for writers!


Its well worth the 33 minutes and 50 seconds of your time. For me, it was worth watching it twice, so I could take good notes. If you don't have time, here are some of my takeaways.

Preface: Why Writing is Important
Kleon references one of my favorite non-business business books, Rework, to reinforce why writing is so important. From 37 Signal's post on wordsmiths:
If you are trying to decide between a few people to fill a position, always hire the better writer.
Good writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else's shoes. They know what to omit. They think clearly. And those are the qualities you need.
Step 2: Read, Read, Read
Good reading leads to good writing. Some people say, "I like to write but don't like to read." Apparently, those are the people who aren't going to "make it".
















Similar to the recommendation for artists, Kleon says to make a creative lineage or writers: Find a writer that you love, that delights you. Read everything that they wrote. Then find three writers than influence them. And read everything that they wrote. And so on, and so on, and so on. (My "person" is probably Daniel Pink.)

Keep a list of what you've read, what you want to read. Write in your books. Argue with the author in the margins. Apparently, this has a name - marginalia.

Step 5: Step Away from the Screen
I don't know where good ideas come from, but they don't come from a computer. There are too many chances to hit the delete button.
Kleon recommends using index cards. A lot of writers do. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about her use of index cards:
I have index cards and pens all over the house--by the bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, by the phones, and I have them in the glove compartment of my car. I carry one with me in my back pocket when I take my dog for a walk. In fact, I carry it folded lengthwise, if you need to know, so that, G-d forbid, I won't look bulky. 













 Step 6: Don't wait until you know what you think to get started. 
Because you discover your thoughts through writing.
And that is why I write. Why do you write? 

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