DiscoverThe Creative Nonfiction Podcast with Brendan O'MearaEpisode 146—Austin Kleon: Steal, Show, and Keep Going!
Episode 146—Austin Kleon: Steal, Show, and Keep Going!

Episode 146—Austin Kleon: Steal, Show, and Keep Going!

Update: 2019-04-05


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"Maybe the world will aways be crazy, and creative work will always be hard. Then the question becomes: How do you keep going?" says Austin Kleon.

This is The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to badass writers, filmmakers, producers, and podcasters about the art and craft of telling true stories.

Austin Kleon is the author of Newspaper Blackout, Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work, The Steal Like an Artist Journal, and his latest book is Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad. 

Keep the conversation going on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod

Thanks to our sponsors in Goucher College's MFA in Nonfiction and Bay Path University's MFA in Creative Nonfiction for helping make today's show possible.

In Channel
Episode 141—Evan Ratliff on Garbage-ing, Legwork in Pitching, and ‘The Mastermind’
"My system is, it's okay not to have a system," says Evan Ratliff, @ev_rat on Twitter.This week I spoke to Evan Ratliff, who puts the bad in badass. Yes, that means I put the ass in badass. Neither here nor there.Evan came on the show to talk about his career as a freelance journalist and, most recently, his epic new book titled The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. It’s a book that combines all the tools of the trade a master reporter needs to tell the globetrotting storyThat’s right, this is The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show were I talk to badass writers, filmmakers, and producers about the art and craft of telling true stories. I try and unpack their origins and how they go about the work so you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work. I’m your host, Brendan O’Meara.So before we get to Evan, you’ll want to find a way to subscribe to this show. I make it easy, man. Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts,  Spotify, Stitcher. I think that’s enough. If you find the show entertaining or informative, share it across your platform with your pals. You are the social network. Rage against the algorithm, rrrrage. If you’re feeling generous of course you can leave a review on iTunes, but I’m jsut as happy with you sharing it or even emailing the show creative nonfiction podcast at gmail dot com.Head over to for show notes and to sign up for my monthly newsletter. The latest one went out today. You’ll find book recommendations and maybe a link to a story written about me in the Register-Guard here in Eugene, OR. I always wanted to be a writer worth writing about. But I guess, for the time, I’m a podcaster worth writing about. It’s pretty cool. Check it out. Newsletter, once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it.Okay, so Evan Ratliff, @ev_rat on Twitter, came by the show. His latest book The Mastermind is a masterpiece of true crime writing. Evan is also the founder of The Atavist Magazine, a co-host of the Longform Podcast, and a long-time freelance writer. This was fun. He came to play ball, which not every guest does so I’m thrilled that he took the time to jam with me.Here’s my conversation with Evan Ratliff. Let’s kick it! What else? Oh, yes, keep the conversation going on Twitter by pinging me @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod. Wanna barf? The show has an Instagram page now: @cnfpod. And, as always, you can like the show on Facebook. You have no excuse for not seeing the show out there in the world.Thanks to Goucher College's Masters in Nonfiction for sponsoring the show! 
Episode 139—Dane Huckelbridge and the Deadliest Tiger the World Has Ever Known
"The freak-of-nature-tiger was actually a man-made disaster," says Dane Huckelbridge, @huckelbridge.You’re here because you love listening to badass writers, filmmakers, and producers talk about the art and craft of true stories. I try and unpack their journey and how they go about the work, so you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and hand this episode over to a friend you think would benefit from it. If you want to leave a written review please do. Feel free to email me with kind words or questions. I might just read them on the air. And keep the conversation going on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod. You are the social network. Subvert the algorithm, man. Rage against the algorithm (great podcast name by the way).If you need any more evidence of Dane’s cool, check out his Twitter handle is simply @huckelbridge. Dane has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Beast, Tin House, The New Republic, and New Delta Review. He is the author of Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit; The United States of Beer: The True Tale of How Beer Conquered America, From B.C. to Budweiser and Beyond; and a novel, Castle of Water, which has been optioned for a film. He grew up in Cleveland. Went to Princeton. And he lives in Paris with his French wife. Happy Valentine’s Day, holy shit.Dane’s book was originally going to be a chapter in a book of man-eating animals, but this story got bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s a brilliant exploration of the tiger as well as British colonialism and how the this tiger was a man-made disaster. Let’s get it on, here’s @huckelbridge, the coolest dude living in Europe.
Episode 132—Laura Hillenbrand on Research Workarounds, Reading Aloud, and Campfire Storytelling
"When I experience something interesting that happens I need to compose it in words," says Laura Hillenbrand.In many ways this is the logical conclusion of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast. This is the Tony Soprano cut-to-black moment, Walter White dying beside his precious meth lab, or Gollum plummeting into the fires of Mt. Doom with the Ring of Power clutched in his hand.This interview with the one and only Laura Hillenbrand was about two years in the making and through unshakable endurance on both sides we were able to get this done and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by this in the least.For those who don’t know, Laura is the best-selling author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend and Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Rddemption. I think best-selling is an understatement. Unbroken spent a staggering 42 weeks at No. 1 on the New York Times Best seller list. Both books were made into Oscar-nominated movies with Gary Ross directing Seabiscuit and Angelina Jolie directing Unbroken. Laura won the National Magazine Award in 2004 for her New Yorker article “A Sudden Illness,” which describes the acute onset of chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, that has been with her since the 1980s. If you haven’t subscribed to the show, be sure to do that wherever you get your podcasts. If you dig the show, please consider leaving an honest review over on iTunes. You can follow me and the show on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod. Like the Facebook page, it’s just The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, and feel free to follow me on Instagram where I post cool audiograms of the shows as well as stupid drawings I do when I need to decompress. Always compressin’ over here.Head over to for show notes and to subscribe to my monthly newsletters where I share my reading recommendations for the month, articles, and what you might have missed from the world of the podcast. It’s a little bite of goodness to start your month. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it. Thanks again to our sponsors in Goucher College’s MFA in Nonfiction and Creative Nonfiction Magazine. And, hey, happy New Year, friend. And thanks for being on this CNFin’ journey with me. Here’s to 2019.
Episode 131—Debbie Millman on Illustrated Essays, the Poem That Defines Her Life, and her Podcast 'Design Matters'
Welcome my CNFin’ buddy, how are YOU, doing? I’m @BrendanOMeara, Brendan O’Meara in real life and this is @CNFPod, or The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to badass writers, filmmakers, and producers about the art and craft of telling true stories. If you want to get better at the form, you’ve come to the right place. This is our little corner of the Internet. If you’re here for the first time, welcome, welcome, crack open a notebook, pour yourself a cup of coffee and settle in, CNFers.Where to start, where to start? My guest is Debbie Millman. Yes, you heard that correctly. Your ears did not deceive you. I didn’t bother digging too deep into Debbie’s origin story because there are several podcasts where she dives into that and I wanted to spare her from repeating herself. Maybe I was too timid in that regard, but I figured I’d steer the ship toward other things.At this point in the introduction is usually where I riff …. on what’s going on, maybe offer some insights into how you can improve your work by sharing something I find helpful. But...sometimes the most helpful thing is getting the cuss out of the way.In 17 words Debbie Millman is a writer, designer, educator, artist, brand consultant, and host of the podcast Design Matters.But in a single word? Debbie is an inspiration. She made a name for herself as a graphic designer and branding guru after years and years of rejections, failures, and false starts. She’s persistent sometimes, she admits, to a fault. Her writing is tight and playful. It’s deep, meaningful, resonant, and beautiful to look at as most of her essays are illustrated in her whimsical way of inking and penciling. As for her career in branding, If you’ve seen the Burger King logo, various Pepsi products, Tropicana, Haagen Daas, and Twizzlers (totally twisted) then you’ve seen her work. If it makes the supermarket look prettier, odds are Debbie had a hand in that. She was the president of Sterling Brands for 20 years, and under her stewardship grew the company from 15 employees to 150. But after a decade of being a titan in her field, from 1995 to 2005, often at the expense of her own creative projects, her writing, her drawing, her painting, she was granted the opportunity to host an internet radio program that, I must add, she had to pay to produce, called Design Matters. This was in 2005. 14 years later and she’s still doing it and for my money she, along with Joe Donahue of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, are the best interviews around. I have a reason for this and I talk about this with Debbie.She has interviewed Milton Glaser, Malcolm Gladwell, Anne Lamott, Seth Godin, Shepard Fairey, and hundreds more. Design Matters is a testament to her endurance and generosity. It wasn’t until she had done the show for several years that it really began to gain traction, win awards, and become the behemoth that it is today. I could go on and on and I must apologize for my titanic nerves in this episode. I mean I suffer from them all the time, but this one was especially bad, for that I’m sorry, but getting the chance to speak to Debbie for nearly an hour was such an esteemed an honor that I had trouble keeping my you know what together. You made it this far so I must say thanks for listening. I do this for you guys so you know that even the best of the best deal with the same bullshit we’re all dealing with. If you haven't already, consider subscribing to the show on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher and subvert the algorithms across the social platforms. If you liked the show, share it with just one friend. Email them the link or share it on social media. And tag me @BrendanOMeara and @CNFPod so I can toast to your awesomeness.Consider leaving an honest review on iTunes as well. I want to see it hit 100 ratings. We’re gonna get there in 2019, but it starts with you. If you have five minutes to spare, please give the show some love.I also have a monthly newsletter where I send out my reading recommendations, cool articles, and anything you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it. Thanks to our sponsors in Goucher College’s MFA in Nonfiction as well as Creative Nonfiction Magazine.
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Episode 146—Austin Kleon: Steal, Show, and Keep Going!

Episode 146—Austin Kleon: Steal, Show, and Keep Going!

Brendan O'Meara