Book Synopsis: Keep Going | 5 Key Take aways

Keep Going written by Austin Kleon, is the ultimate guide for staying creative in good and bad times. It is another masterpiece by Austin Kleon. Whether you are about to set off on your creative journey or you already have done it. Whether you are an artist pretty famous or working in unknowingly. It is the ultimate guide for persistence. It is the guide for you to keep going with whatever is happening instead of the process of the creation of art. Lets deep dive into the major takeaways:

1.Wrote this book because I want to read it:

Creativity is not easy. Not, in terms of just relying on the process of creating art to earn the living as well. It is because it is hard. The world after the Industrial revolution has become very difficult for the artist. As Seth Godin says:

Industrialists do not want you to be creative. Simply, they want you to follow a certain path for training to become a skilled worker. So that you work for them. Earn money. Go home and watch TV. Fill your houses with stuff and die. Be creative and keep going. Never compare yourself. Be creative because it is what is meant to be human. Create what you want to see, read or watch.

“ The world is crazy. Creative work is hard. Life is short and art is long.”

“There are no rules, of course. Life is an art, not a science. Your mileage may vary. Take what you need and leave the rest.”

“Keep going and take care of yourself.”

2.Forget the noun, Do the verb:

Creativity is about the verb and the noun. Your focus is on the creating part of the art. We are obsessed with nouns. Whatever we do, we find the nouns or titles linked with it.

If you wait for someone to give you a job title before you do the work, you might never get to do the work at all. You can’t wait around for someone to call you an artist before you make art. You’ll never make it.

Your creativity is fun, not any serious chore. Fun is an important part of productivity. If you do not love the work it is hard to be productive in it. What human brain is designed in such a way that we all are always looking for perfection. Perfectionism is an excuse that creators use early on. They use to avoid creative work. Because they are humans and they procrastinate.

Another trick: When nothing’s fun anymore, try to make the worst thing you can. The ugliest drawing. The crummiest poem. The most obnoxious song. Making intentionally bad art is a ton of fun.

“You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO . . . Try to do some BAD work-the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell-you are not responsible for the world-you are only responsible for your work-so DO IT.” -Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse3.

3. Slay the art monsters:

The act of creating art is the most joyful thing in the universe. It can only be felt by artists themselves. “Art is for life.”

Kurt Cobain after his suicide, “No one’s art is better than the person who creates it.”

Great artists help people look at their lives with fresh eyes and a sense of possibility. “The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair,” writes Sarah Manguso. “If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.” Quite simply: Art is supposed to make our lives better.

Art is full of uncertainty. It is the beauty of art. The uncertainty tells us that we know nothing that is gone to happen with the art of creating. It is like the analogy of Window openers and door knockers. Artists are door knockers they do not know what the other side has to offer.

You start each work not knowing exactly where you’re going or where you’ll end up. “Art is the highest form of hope,” said painter Gerhard Richter. But hope is not about knowing how things will turn out-it is moving forward in the face of uncertainty. It’s a way of dealing with uncertainty. “Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable,” writes Rebecca Solnit. To have hope, you must acknowledge that you don’t know everything and you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s the only way to keep going and the only way to keep making art: to be open to possibility and allow yourself to be changed.

4.Plant your garden:

Going on a creative journey is like a tree in a garden. The tree passes through different phases as the seasons come and go. It is important to keep ongoing.

Corita Kent: “That tree was the great teacher of the last two decades of her life,” her former student Mickey Myers said. “She learned from that tree. The beauty is produced in spring was only because of what it went through during the winter, and sometimes the harshest winters yielded the most glorious springs.”

“There is no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years is nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!” -Rainer Maria Rilke

5. Keep going:

“Whenever life gets overwhelming, go back to chapter one of this book and think about your days. Try your best to fill them in ways that get you a little closer to where you want to be. Go easy on yourself and take your time. Worry less about getting things done. Worry more about things worth doing. Worry less about being a great artist. Worry more about being a good human being who makes art. Worry less about making a mark. Worry more about leaving things better than you found them.”

“Keep working. Keep playing. Keep drawing. Keep looking. Keep listening. Keep thinking. Keep dreaming. Keep singing. Keep dancing. Keep painting. Keep sculpting. Keep designing. Keep composing. Keep acting. Keep cooking. Keep searching. Keep walking. Keep exploring. Keep giving. Keep living.

Keep paying attention.

Keep doing your verbs, whatever they may be.

Keep going.”

Get PDF : Keep Going

Check out other masterpieces by Austin Kleon: Show your Work

Originally published at on January 27, 2021.



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