Keep Going - Austin Kleon

Keep Going - Austin Kleon

Find out how to face the creative Obstruction and keep the creation of ideas active, regardless of the circumstances.

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Who has never had an idea, developed it, and suddenly had a creative block and couldn't move on?

This has probably happened to you, hasn't it? With us too!

Creative blocks are common, but we can't let that affect our creativity and productivity.

In order to solve this problem, this summary will show you how to stay creative in the face of challenges and thus come up with great and productive ideas.

The book "Keep Going"

Published in 2019, "Keep Going" is a work that reflects on what makes us creative and how to develop new ideas in good times and bad times.

Throughout its 201 pages, the book presents in a relaxed, easy-to-read language way, the best practices for focusing on your personal development, with tactics for brainstorming and giving wings to creativity.

Throughout this summary, we will show you the best tips the author presents, showing how you can apply in your life and be more productive.

Who is Austin Kleon?

Born in the US, in Ohio, Austin Kleon has worked as a librarian, web designer, and copywriter.

Today, Kleon is an artist, writer and poet, as well as authoring the successful illustrated trilogy "Steal Like an Artist", "Show Your Work!" and "Keep Going".

His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have featured on renowned newspaper platforms such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Why should I read it?

According to Austin Kleon:

"This book is a list of things that helped me. I originally wrote for writers and artists, but I believe the principles apply to everyone who tries to lead a productive and creative life, including entrepreneurs, teachers, students, retirees, and activists."

What are the key points of the book "Keep Going"?

To anticipate what lies ahead, here are the main proposals of the work, in the form of summarized sentences:

  • Each day is a new day, and we must create habits to make it productive;
  • Having space where you can disconnect from the world favors your creativity;
  • Attention turns the ordinary into the extraordinary;
  • Sometimes changing your mind is good for your thinking;
  • Many good ideas are lost in the past;
  • Taking a walk and a nap makes your brain more creative;
  • Your creativity has cycles.

Download the "Keep Going" Book Summary in PDF for free

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[Book Summary] Keep Going - Austin Kleon

Live one day at a time

Austin Kleon begins his book with the example of the movie "Groundhog Day" to show that if we want to be creative, we need to understand that every day is a new day and that from the moment we wake up, we are starting from scratch.

That is, our problems yesterday cannot affect our performance today, just as today's problems cannot affect tomorrow.

This is precisely the question that moves the plot of "Groundhog Day":

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing you did before mattered?"

The book] "Keep Going" states that we need to answer this question too, like the plot of the movie, and carry on the plot of our lives.

Our creative life starts from scratch every day. We live in this loop where we think, develop and create something and then return to the starting point.

Therefore, it is necessary to establish a daily routine, to create habits that will allow your creative development.

Obviously, there will be good days when you will be inspired and bad days where the mind can't seem to get out of place. But the purpose of the routine is precisely to help you get through the bad days and get the best results from them.

Defining routine is an individual process that you must establish by looking at your days and trying to answer questions like these:

  • "How does your calendar work?";
  • "Do you have any free time?";
  • "What can be removed from your calendar for having more time?";
  • "Do you produce more during the day or at night?";
  • "Do you have rituals, superstitions or methods that make you more creative?".

Answering these questions is the start point for shaping your routine, and with it well defined you will have taken an important step toward being more creative.

Finally, understand that your day is a blank page, over time you will fill in and by the end of the day, you will have completed your page.

Have your creative season

So let's understand how to best build your creative season and contribute to great ideas?

We believe it is no mystery to anyone that in today's world we are bombarded daily by "tons" of information.

Just by opening our eyes in the morning our heads begin to absorb this immense amount of data, whether it be on a mobile phone, computer, television or other media. Our brain is overwhelmed with the number of things that go through it.

So, according to Austin Kleon, to stay creative, you'll need to unplug.

This is the concept of the creative season. It is defining a place or time when you can rest your mind, isolate yourself from the rest of the world, and focus on letting the creativity flow.

The book "Keep Going" emphasizes that it is not necessary to be a place, it can also be a time when you can "clean the house", activate your "airplane mode" and be disconnected to think more and better.

All this happens because the digital world has distanced us from three elements: loneliness, uncertainty, and boredom.

And as bad as these may sound, it's where our imagination can go to unimaginable places and our minds can come up with the best ideas.

Pay attention and be extraordinary!

How to be extraordinary is the main point explained by Austin Kleon. To be creative and have an extraordinary job you don't need to have an extraordinary life.

The necessary tools for the extraordinary are already in your daily life, you just need to pay attention to everything around you.

That's because it's how artists do it: they pay attention to their own world and, at the end of this creative process, make us pay attention to our world.

Don't worry about changing your mind

We live in a world where people are afraid to change their minds, as this may show a sign of weakness.

We notice a lot of this in the political class, where politicians avoid changing their minds so as not to appear weak to their opponents.

But creative people cannot be closed-minded to one goal and must be willing to change their mind if necessary.

So if you are strengthening an idea and have reached a dead-end where you can't go elsewhere, Austin Kleon says to don't be afraid to change your mind and take a new direction.

Sometimes we need to take a few steps back to move on in the best way.

Visiting the Past

Still talking about creative blocks, where the idea doesn't seem to get out of place and you can't stimulate your creativity, Austin Kleon brings a technique that can help you break this barrier: visit the past.

He says that people are all worried about the future and what's new, so they come up with similar ideas.

That said, Kleon suggests that you look for the dead, since they have a lot to say and are excellent listeners. But how so?

Talking about looking for the dead refers to looking for their works and thoughts. Human beings have been roaming the planet Earth for thousands of years and their knowledge has been accumulated over the centuries.

The point raised by the author is precisely that, in the longing for new things, old things that are as useful as the new fall into oblivion.

So if you are having trouble carrying your idea forward, don't hesitate to visit past thoughts and ideas through old books, for example.

In conclusion, the book "Keep Going" gives some tips on how to deal with when you can't get an idea:

  • Choose an idea you don't like; something that is done but that you believe can be "destroyed" and done better;
  • Find the opposite idea that everyone has forgotten or even used but has been set aside, and resurrect that idea;
  • This way you will have innovated just by visiting the past and thus improving the process.

Fresh air to clarify ideas

Many times, when we think of new ideas and innovations, our head become a whirlwind of ideas, both good and bad. This is where the fresh air comes in, to refresh the ideas and make the mind get some rest.

The author Austin Kleon himself makes use of this habit and says that his best ideas are the result of his morning walks with his wife and children.

So to stimulate your brain and be more creative, don't stay locked in your room, walk long distances, alone, with a friend or with a dog. We assure you that your ideas will flow naturally (and in the break, it is still possible to burn some calories).

Other important tips

Go for the action!

Imagine a child drawing. When they draw, the pencil goes through the sheet, all the way, an adult looks at that and thinks that drawing makes no sense at all.

As they finish drawing, we may ask what that is and we will probably hear an answer in the following style: "I drew a winged 8-legged dog defeating a horned atomic ant."

This may not make much sense to us, but this is because children, however fertile in their imagination, do not think and plan on how the final design will look: they just draw and have fun every second of the process.

A creative process can be no different. Austin Kleon advises that you have to focus on making and developing your idea, you have to focus on action!

Do it as a child: have fun, play and so your ideas will flow, as creativity tends to evolve and new ideas emerge while we are having fun.

Get organized

The organization is essential, and it's about both physical and mental organization.

Let's do an exercise to visualize better. Remember the creative season? In it, you should keep only what will help to leverage your creativity.

For example, a messy environment with excess of unnecessary objects does not contribute to your productivity.

It is therefore important that you organize your physical space by having the necessary development tools at your disposal and getting rid of what you do not need.

Of course, each person has their own preferences, so the book "Keep Going" says to understand your own and organize your space in your way.

But we are not just talking about physical organization. Being mentally organized is also very important.

We have already mentioned that taking a walk and getting some fresh air is good for that, but at this point, the author Austin Kleon has another tactic: taking a nap. Yes! Taking a nap helps you organize your brain and come back with more energy to be creative.

Understand your cycles

During the year, a tree goes through four seasons and four stages in its development.

According to the autor, creativity is not different. Our creative process goes through moments of flowering and times when the leaves will fall.

Then you must understand your cycle, your patterns, and know what bad times are coming and what you need to be patient to move on until the spring of your creativity comes.

Books about productivity

Talking a little more about creativity, Ed Catmull, the author of "Creativity, Inc" advises: Always give people more preference than ideas, because creative people create good ideas, but good ideas can be destroyed by bad teams.

In the book "Atomic Habits", the author James Clear states that major changes are made by minor improvements. And when Austin Kleon talks about living one day at a time, creating habits and setting a routine, he talks about the big changes it will bring to your creative life.

In "The Power of Habit", Charles Duhigg makes clear that, although the habit change process is simple to explain, it does not mean that it is easy to perform. It is not difficult to suggest that smoking, alcoholism and compulsive eating can be resolved effortlessly. However, real change requires dedication and self-understanding of what stimulates your habit.

So, how can I be more creative?

Now that we have reached the end of this book, we have all the tips to stay creative by enjoying the good days and overcoming the bad days. But here here you can get some more:

  • Live one day at a time;
  • Have your creative station where your imagination can be used to its fullest;
  • Put your phone in airplane mode, being open-minded and uninterrupted is essential;
  • Observe how children play and have fun, and adopt this method for yourself;
  • Take a long walk;
  • Be aware of what happens around you;
  • Did you have a creative block? Do not be afraid to resort to the past.

By following these steps, we are sure that you will become an increasingly creative and innovative person.

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And if you want to understand all the details of Austin Kleon's book, it is available for purchase. Just click on the image below:

Book 'Keep Going'