How to steal like an artist

My friend Dave asked for my thoughts on How To Steal Like an Artist, so I may as well share them with the rest of the world too. He’s talking about creativity generally; I take a specifically writer’s views.

  1. Yup.
  2. Indeed – this is part of your becoming. Having an idea helps, however, to give drive and focus to your creativity. Knowing who you are feeds into your creativity and vice versa.
  3. Depends. Sometimes there’s a contractual obligation. However, let’s assume this is about starting out as a writer, so it’s probably true. However, having written what you like, go back and check it isn’t just fan fiction. Sometimes you have to drown your kittens.
  4. YMMV. This works for him; I know for a fact it wouldn’t for me.
  5. Yes, even when you feel they’re crowding into what you really want to do, i.e. be creative.
  6. Get a good publisher with a publicity department. You should be free to spend your energy on creating.
  7. Well, yes. Not sure why this makes the top 10 – it’s a bit like saying we live on a world with gravity.
  8. Oh yes. Oh yes! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because if they’re typical newbie ones then people will people will move on. But if you enter the realms of total epic jerkness, people will remember. Oh yes. See
  9. Also true. This is why I get so irritated with people banging on about not wanting to have a boring 9-5 job when in fact they’ve never tried it.The boring 9-5 job gives you stability and subsidises the important stuff you do with the rest of your time. All the other things he mentions are true too.
  10. Also true. Make your audience do some imagining rather than spell it out for them – it will be better than anything you write. Cf. the entire career of Anne McCaffrey after the mid-80s.