Stepping Stones Blog

Sunday Salon: May 4, 2014

I just heard on the news that it is Stars Wars Day (“may the fourth” be with you….).  For those of you who celebrate – enjoy!  I plan to take advantage of the lovely spring weather by going for a long walk this afternoon.

Reading:  I don’t remember the source that introduced me to Austin Kleon this week, but I am grateful.  He first published in 2010 a unique book of poetry, Newspaper Blackout, but it was his later works that attracted my attention.  I am most anxious to read Show Your Work, which emphasizes the importance of process rather than product, but there are several others ahead of me on the library waiting list.  I did manage to obtain his second book, Steal Like an Artist, which I devoured in a couple of hours.

The author describes himself as a “writer who draws” and he illustrates his books with simple, entertaining images that help communicate his message.  He uses several quotes from a variety of other creatives which support his statement that all artists steal – the secret is in stealing good material and copying it well.

He makes the distinction between good theft, which will eventually help us develop our own style, and bad theft, which is nothing short of plagiarism.   In a T-chart diagram (page 39), the author explores the differences:

Good Theft:  honors, studies, steals from many sources, credits those sources, transforms us, remixes styles which develop into our own.

Bad Theft:  degrades, skims, steals from one source only, plagiarizes, imitates, rips off

The book is well-written and easy to read.  Definitely worth the short investment of your time.

Writing:  While I have kept to my journal routine – write at least ten minutes a day, and maintained my blogging schedule (see below), I must confess that I have not tackled other writing projects.  The travel article for the anthology is at a standstill, which I blame on the sudden death of Jude, as well as the end-of-the-year academic pressures.

Grading research papers and literary essays will dominate my time this week, so my goal is to repeat this minimum performance and then fully embrace the writer’s life after graduation on May 16th.

Blogging:  If it is true – that it takes three weeks to create a habit – then I am well on way to a blogging habit.  For the third week in a row I have adhered to the schedule, and I feel rather accomplished.

  • Travel Tuesday – where I wonder if my Love of Language preceded my Love of Travel
  • Writing Wednesday – where I begin the first of four summaries of the Angela Hunt writing seminar
  • Photo Friday – where I discuss the camera’s ability to help me enjoy the beauty in the ordinary

Artist Dates:  Many of you are familiar with Julia Cameron’s classic, The Artist’s Way.  I have read the book several times and tried to follow the twelve week program on two separate occasions (have only gone as far as week five).  She insists that every creative must begin each day with “Morning Pages” – handwriting three pages of anything that pops into our heads.  This clears the mind and makes space for creative thought.  I have maintained this practice (off-and-on) for about four years.

However she also mandates that all creatives take themselves on an Artist Date once a week.  This is a solo event for an extended period of time (minimum two hours) that fills the creative well.  I have not been as diligent in this area, mostly because I cannot think of creative places to go.  Sure, there is the typical museum excursion or the walk through the arboretum, but that taps my resources.

So what does any left-brained creative do when stymied?  Google it.

I searched “List of Artist Dates” and found several resources, most notably The Artist’s Way blog where 101 ideas are discussed, and Where the Wind Takes Me where 99 ideas are revealed. I used index cards to write the ideas that appealed to me, and even came up with a few of my own.  I now have 40 cards to review whenever I am unsure of what to do on my special date.

I hope to add this as a weekly feature to the Sunday Salon post – in part to keep me accountable, but also in the hopes of inspiring others to make Artist Dates of their own.  We not only deserve it… we need it!



  1. readerbuzz

    I think one Artist Date a month should be in Paris!

    • Isn’t that the truth!!!

  2. It’s always good to have a place for ideas, even if it’s the Google. 🙂

  3. joyweesemoll

    I liked Steal Like an Artist. I didn’t know about Show Your Work, but I just got in line for it at the library.

  4. cathyensley

    I had to laugh when I read that you researched artist dates and wrote down a list. That’s exactly what I would do. 🙂 Maybe. But when I went to the sites and looked at the suggestions, I’ve already done many, and others didn’t appeal, although there are certainly some that I would do.

    But besides that, there’s my underlying belief that I don’t have time to take a two-hour date with myself each week. Or to spend time writing morning pages.

    I do need to take a few minutes each day to simply sit and “be.” To sit and do nothing, and allow the multiple thoughts in my brain to drain away, and to be more aware of what’s going on outside of me. To listen to the wind, etc. That seems to be both necessary and enough.

  5. Paul

    A writer who draws. I love that. I try to, poorly, but that’s my intent.


  1. Book Review: Show Your Work | Stepping Stones Book Reviews

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