Joy in repetition
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1w ago
Today’s newsletter is about finding joy in repetition and the generative power of doing the same thing over and over again. You can read it here. I tried writing this letter a few weeks ago and couldn’t get anywhere with it. And then I remembered this image of stacked drawings by Kate Bingaman-Burt and everything sort of clicked into place: When I usually think about an artist’s body of work, I visualize piles of sketchbooks stacked up or diaries taking up a shelf: Clockwise, from top-left: James Kochalka’s sketchbooks, Michael Beirut’s composition books, Duncan Hannah’s diaries, David Sedar ..read more
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Making things with your own hands
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1w ago
Two Fridays ago my friend Steven visited the studio and I showed him how to make zines from a single sheet of paper. We spent a half hour or so catching up and folding, creasing, and tearing paper. At the end I said, “I haven’t made anything with my hands in a while… that’s probably why I’m sad!” (I wrote more about it and linked to a bunch of zines in the newsletter.) I found myself stuck at a band function with my kiddo for several hours and never was I more happy to carry a pen and a notebook. I think I filled a dozen pages or so of scribbles and drawings. I’ve been using my notebook a lo ..read more
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29-day Practice and Suck Less challenge
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1M ago
Tomorrow is February. Again. For a few years now, I’ve been pushing February as a month of possibility. It’s the shortest month, so it should be the easiest for a daily “practice and suck less” challenge. This year is a leap year and we get an extra day in February, so here’s a 29-day challenge for you to download and print out. Good luck ..read more
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More gardening metaphors
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1M ago
In this week’s Tuesday letter, I wrote about 7 more gardening metaphors for creative work. Even more to add to the compost heap later: 1) “Deadheading,” a kind of pruning in which you’re trying to redirect the plant’s growth 2) Grafting, which I’ve been reading about in John McPhee’s Oranges: Citrus does not come true from seed. If you plant an orange seed, a grapefruit might spring up. If you plant a seed of that grapefruit, you might get a bitter lemon. With a graft, however, what you saw was what you got. Filed under: gardening ..read more
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Gardening metaphors
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1M ago
In today’s newsletter, I write about gardening metaphors: I love living with a gardener because not only do I get to enjoy the harvest without doing much (if any) of the work, I also get exposed to gardening tips which become metaphors for my own creative work. (The “gardening” tag on my blog is now dozens of posts deep and the last chapter of my book Keep Going is called “Plant Your Garden.”) “When botanists go walking the forests and fields looking for plants, we say we are going on a foray,” writes Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass. “When writers do the same, we should call it a ..read more
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Why don’t you try typing?
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1M ago
There’s a famous story about the actors Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier on the set of the movie Marathon Man, retold by Isaac Butler in The Method: How The Twentieth Century Learned to Act: Hoffman explained—or perhaps bragged about—the lengths to which he would go to capture his character’s worn-out, paranoid emotionality. He had been staying up all night and running in order to look exhausted. In response, Olivier, exasperated by his younger male colleague, deadpanned, “My dear boy, why don’t you try acting?” I tell my own version in today’s newsletter: “Why don’t you try typing ..read more
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100 things that made my year (2023)
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
2M ago
Watching the owls in our back yard raise two owlets. Riding bikes with my friends. Sending out the newsletter. The Guardian naming it one of the best. How nice our community is to each other in the comments. Steal Like an Artist going into its 30th printing with over a million copies in print. Making stamps. Making volvelles! Discovering Roget’s thesaurus. Shelling out the dough for an Apple Studio Display, which has truly made my working life way more pleasant. Burning candles and incense in the studio. Chopping wood for a fire. Building a fire. Sitting around the fire. Pizza night and a mo ..read more
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My reading year, 2023
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
2M ago
Here are all the books I finished in 2023. I am tempted to just leave them here in this big visual pile and say nothing else about them. I’m tired of making these lists! And I often wonder if I stop making year-end lists if it will free me up even more to stop slogging through books I don’t like, to be even more promiscuous, read intros and articles and websites and PDFs and just generally be more reckless. As I tweeted to Elisa Gabbert, who makes my favorite year-end list, I am “trying to fight my completist Brian.” I loved that typo — it was supposed to be “brain” but I like the idea of a c ..read more
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Solstice vibes
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
2M ago
Today’s newsletter begins: It’s bleak and rainy in Texas. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year. “I look out the window and it’s so drab,” my son said. “But then I look at the Christmas tree and it’s so cheerful.” That’s the spirit! This is the season when we need more light. Read the rest here ..read more
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Retrograde rocket
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
2M ago
A “retrograde rocket” is a rocket engine on a spacecraft that helps slow the craft down enough that you can bring it out of orbit or land it safely. I’d like one for my spacecraft, please! (Collage from the newsletter ..read more
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