I was at my local bookstore the other day and I saw that Austin Kleon has a new book out. I love his work (and first blogged about it way back in 2016). Among many other wonderful works, he’s the genius behind this perfect little diagram:
If you’re unfamiliar, Austin Kleon’s books are these compilations of quotes and thoughts about about the act of creating art, interspersed with his own creative cartoons and found word poems. I love each book more than the last. In fact, he has become one of only a few authors who, when I see they have a new book, I buy it. I don’t even read the cover copy.
I’ve been slowly working my way through this newest book, Keep Going, and just about every line is quotable, but there was one idea that really struck me. He’s talking about the challenges we face when we choose to make our art the thing with which we make a living. He says:
When you start making a living from your work, resist the urge to monetize every single bit of your creative practice. Be sure that there’s at least a tiny part of you that’s off-limits to the marketplace. Some little piece of you that you keep for yourself.
This is difficult advice, because as artists, we’re struggling to pull in money from any place we can. (Have I mentioned you can support me on Patreon? No? You can.) Because true creative work rarely brings in much cash.
So it struck me when I read that. For three years now I’ve been lucky enough to do the full-time-mom-write-while-the-kids-are-at-school thing. For the first time in my life I have plenty of time to write, and I do. I write a lot. And I no longer have to get up at 5am to do, and yet, I still get up at 5am. It’s exhausting, but I persist.
When I read that bit in Kleon’s book I realized why. It’s because the writing I do at 5 in the morning, before anyone else is awake, is strictly for me. Mostly I journal. I play around with words or gripe or dream and the words flow like water because I know nobody will ever see them. It is the BEST way to start my day.
So I’m keeping today’s post short, leaving you with just two key ideas: Austin Kleon rocks, you should totally buy his books AND find a way to keep a little bit of your art for yourself. Because not everything needs a price tag.