Creative, Life

What I Learned from the #StealJournal Challenge

As soon as I found the Steal Like an Artist notebook, I bought it. Considering I’ve read the original Steal Like an Artist more times than any other “artist book” it only made sense that I get the Steal journal too. Of course with my habit of never keeping to a journal for any period longer than a few days, I only did a few pages. However, during February Austin Kleon, the author and brilliant mind behind Steal Like an Artist and one of my favorite twitter accounts, posted a finished page of the journal every day and invited others to do the same. I did (well tried to) and this is what I learned.

Steal Journal Glyphs Sirens Finds


Thinking Differently is the name of the game with the steal journal. Many of the prompts are only simple in theory. It didn’t take long for me to realize that journaling could be as bland as I wanted it to be or as amusing as everyone made it seem. It was up to my approach.

steal journal process sirens finds

Journaling allowed me to visualize how I work. In more exercises than one I had to break down my process (or really the lack of a process), in order to find my solutions. I like to makes things really hard for myself.

steal journal graph sirens finds

It forced me to “create” everyday. Even on days when there were no write ups, orders, or designs to do, I knew I had to do something outside of my regularly scheduled making. By day 10, I even stopped with the heavy sighs!

While most days offered fun prompts, I also had to get real with myself. What am I really doing?! What’s going great?!? I DON’T KNOW, MR KLEON. TELL YOUR STEAL JOURNAL TO LAY OFF!!

Steal Journal Aliens Sirens Finds

Day 28, I’d pretty much given up. It became rather clear that I’m not nearly as creative as I’d like to be. Admitting this was a cop-out, declaration of defeat, and a point of reformation. My brain wasn’t even focused on the journaling aspect anymore as much as it was trying to re-work my whole life as a maker.

Mostly, I learned that I’m still learning. A lot of the in-between days were filled with me being frustrated with things not even related to the journal journey but somehow getting clarity while taking the time to work on a page.

Overall, journaling for 29 days was taxing. It made me challenge other areas of my so called creative life. It made me do crazy bits of research. It made me become a constructive critic of what I do, don’t do, and what I should definitely be doing. It made me get uncomfortable every single day.

(Austin Kleon shared his experience using his journal too. Check out what he had to say.)


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