The shape of days

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

i had a rough day

Kurt Vonnegut thought every story has a shape that can be graphed —  each has a beginning and an end (plotted on the x-axis) and every character goes through “good fortune” and “ill fortune” (plotted on the y-axis). I put a bunch of them together for this chart in Show Your Work!:

kurt vonnegut's story graphs

I think our days have shapes, too — each has a beginning and an end, and we go through good and ill fortune as it progresses. Read the rest of this entry »

Low overhead, revisited

Friday, July 4th, 2014


In today’s New York Times, a man said this about living in a 112-square-foot house: “It has maximized what I’m able to do with the young years of my life.” 

This is the big point I try to make when I speak to young people: “Keep your overhead low.”

The less you have to maintain, the more time you have to do what you want to do.

GRAMMY Interview

Friday, July 4th, 2014


As an amateur songwriter and musician, one of my favorite interviews during SXSW this year was with Chris Sampson, a songwriting professor and Vice Dean for Contemporary Music at USC, who uses my books in his classroom. The whole interview is only available to Grammy Pro members, but there are some clips below.

Is the year half empty or half full?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

is the year half empty or half full

July 2nd is the middle of the year. Half of the year is gone, half of the year is still to be.

One of the reasons I like keeping a logbook is that it makes time tangible. Turn the pages, and you can feel the days pass.

Sometimes you flip back through the pages and they feel wasted. But flip forward, and you still have plenty of blank pages to fill.


No words

Monday, June 30th, 2014


Sometimes the words don’t come. That’s when I make pictures. (And vice versa.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Make Mistakes

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I’ve been on my friend Mike Monteiro‘s podcast, Let’s Make Mistakes, twice now.

The first show was called “No One Destroys My Family But Me,” and we talked about being dads:

The second show was called “Church and State,” and it’s us ranting about art, design, and creativity:

I’m currently working on the forward to Mike’s forthcoming book, You’re My Favorite Client, which is the sequel to his brilliant book, Design Is A Job.

Russian translation of Show Your Work!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014


The Russians don’t screw around. Like they did for the Russian translation of Steal Like An Artist, Mann, Ivanov, & Ferber have turned Show Your Work! into a bigger, badder, hardback! You can get a copy here.

tumblr_n7kvwfryVs1qz6f4bo7_500 russian-steal


Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

sentences will be the death of me

I hate writing. What I really love is reading. I tell people I became a professional writer so I could be a professional reader. (Adam Phillips: “I had never had any desire to be a writer. I wanted to be a reader.”)

All the books I recommended on book tour

Thursday, June 12th, 2014


I can’t stand being in a bookstore talking about only my own books and not the books I love.

One of my favorite things to do on the Show Your Work! tour was very quickly cruise through the bookstore before my talk and pick up five (somewhat random) books to recommend during Q&A.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Statement

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

I write what I want to read

Always circling the same obsessions, I’ll often make a poem months (or years) after that would’ve fit perfectly into one of my books. This one would’ve gone into chapter three of Steal Like An Artist (“Write the book you want to read.”) Originally, it was going to go, “I read what I want to read,” as a screw you to people who try to make you feel guilty about what you read, but I decided I couldn’t pass this one up.

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