Austin Kleon’s books have had a huge influence on Studio writers of all ages…whether they know it or not.
In Steal Like an Artist, he validates everything I’ve ever said to parents who worry when their kids begin writing fan fiction.
“My daughter just ripped off J.K. Rowling,” a concerned mother will tell me, and I’ll find myself pulling on some version of Kleon’s words in response. Nothing is original, he reminds us. Everything is a remix.
Stealing is okay, I’ll reassure her. But…..stealing isn’t simple. I find that kids need to be taught how to steal with integrity. After all, there’s a big difference between truly remixing and simply tacking our own ideas on top of someone’s original and calling the result our own.
When adults who know better do this, it’s called plagiarism. When young writers do this, I try to treat it as a developmental phase. Then, I make it my responsibility to teach them how to remix. Explicitly.
This snapshot reflects what the process typically looks like.
I’m wondering how others make the notion of remixing a bit more concrete for young writers.