Posted in Discussion Questions

Reading Discussion: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is an artist, a poet, and a writer who is, at this point, most well-known for talking about artistic process. His book, Steal Like an Artist, might seem like a strange place to start in an intro to professional writing class. Professional writing and technical writing aren’t usually seen as an “art” but as we talk about the relationships between rhetoric, writing, professional personae and professional practices, Kleon’s book serves a great jumping off point. It’s a fun read, and it helps us to think about our practices.

His book is really a series of ten bullet points– advice to would-be professional writers and artists. As you think about writing your own reading discussion posts later in the semester, consider what kinds of questions make good discussion questions.

For example. Here are some surface level questions that might get you thinking, but don’t necessarily serve as good discussion questions:

  • What does it mean to “Steal Like an Aritst”
  • Did you find yourself agreeing with or resisting Kleon’s advice?
  • What hobbies and projects do you do?
  • How could we put Kleon’s advice to work?

All of these are good questions. I hope you’re thinking of the answers as you read, but they aren’t necessarily questions that open up discussion, or help us read past the surface level of understanding the text.

Discussion questions should make deeper connections, invite further discussion, and shouldn’t lend themselves easily to clear cut answers, or simple “yes or no” responses. Discussion questions open up the text and invite further questions.

Here are a couple we will start with:

  1. What connections can you make between Kleon’s advice to writers and artists and your own experience as a student beginning to develop habits of work and a professional identity?
  2. Are there specific moments in the text that made you consider your own approach to work, even if you don’t think of your work as necessarily “creative”? For example, I’m stuck on these sentences as I think about my goals for own work habits this semester: “Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up and do their thing. Every day” (28).  How is this specific moment in the text helping you think differently or more clearly about work practices, habits, or ways of seeing your work?


I am a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition and Purdue University. I currently teach first year composition. My research interests include threshold concepts in composition, invention strategies, service-learning, community engagement, and professional and technical writing.

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