Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is a short, clever, to-the-point kick in the butt that everyone needs from time to time. The book is little and surprisingly entertaining. In fact, once you pick it up, I dare you to take longer than three days to finish it.
The little book is packed full of great, practical advice such as: "Don't wait until you know who you are to get started" and "Be nice".
One of my favorite concepts that Austin presents is to "Practice Productive Procrastination". What he means by this is to indulge the things that you're wondering about or want to try. Follow the curiosity wherever it may lead because it's those unexpected things that may turn into the next big thing for you. I've seen this in my own life as I wondered what it would be like to sketch on the train. I followed that idea and stumbled upon the work I am now most passionate about.
Another great idea of his is that "In the beginning obscurity is good". As we all get our careers gong, we're all making work that we may be proud of in the moment. However, if time passes and we realize how amateur it really was, it's okay, because it's not like we have a name or reputation or anything to screw up. If we're just an obscure artist, it's okay if our work isn't perfect while we're still figuring out who we are, what we do, and how to create it. Enjoy the obscurity while you have it because it's liberating! Create! Learn! Experiment and explore! Just go for it!
Here a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"A wonderful flaw about human beings is that we're incapable of making perfect copies. Our failure to copy our heroes is where we discover where our own thing lives. That is how we evolve."
"You're ready. Start making stuff."
"Quit picking fights and go make something."