How to Steal Ideas

Stolen from Austin Kleon.

Nothing’s original.

There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Originality is undetected plagiarism. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this world is original. “Original” art is just connecting the same old dots in a different pattern. And the best way to get more of these dots into your life is to steal them. There are bajillions of things to steal in the world, and many people to steal it from. Use what you find interesting, appreciate what you don’t, and move on to the next thing to steal.

You are your own remix.

You are a mashup of your mom and dad and your ancestors. Your ideas are a mashup of the people you surround yourself with, the friends you make, the music you listen to, the movies you see and the blogs you read. 😛 In the same way, your ideas are a mix of other people’s ideas. You might feel like the ideas in your head are 100% yours, but that couldn’t be more far from the truth. Your job is to pick the sources and ideas that you want to be influenced by.

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. -Jim Jarmusch

Build your own creative lineage.

One good way to keep the art flowing is to consider yourself as part of a big creative family tree that has all your role models in it. Start with one thinker. Study everything there is to know about them. Then find three people that thinker loved and study them. Grow branches of your tree as far out as you can. Seeing yourself as part of a bigger picture gives you a sense of purpose, makes you feel less alone and more empowered to continue doing what you’re doing.

Putting up pictures or quotes of your favourite people in the world is a great way to do this. They’re like friendly ghosts, pushing you forward.

Teach yourself.

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it also cured polio. Keep your eyes open for anything worth Googling. Whenever in doubt, Google. Google your dreams, your nightmares, your problems and absolutely any random thought on your mind. It’s sure to either give the right answers or lead you to better questions.

Write it down.

If you’re in the hunt for ideas, there are two things you’ll need to carry with you all the time: a pen and paper.

If you see something worth remembering, chances are you’ll forget it in the next twenty four hours. The difference between a genius and a normal person is that when a genius comes across something cool, she notes it down.

See something worth your attention?

Steal it.

It is better to take what doesn’t belong to you than to let it lie around neglected. -Mark Twain

Sorry this post is a bit short. Next week will be better, I promise!

What do you want to see next? Any ideas on your mind? Leave a comment below!

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. I learned facilitation skills from a woman who said she used — and recommended — the BASE method: Borrow and Steal Everything. If it works, us it, but make it your own. I guess that’s good advice for bloggers too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, I totally understand what you’re dealing with. The idea of copying someone else’s ideas tends to make us feel like a fraud sometimes. One tip for your next blog post: go steal ideas from various sources. Credit them all. Not only will you feel proud of your post, but people will find it to be ‘original’.
      If you copy one blogger, it’s plagiarism. If you copy many, it’s originality. Feel free to steal from this post too!

      —What else do you think I could write next?

      Liked by 1 person

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