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Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

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Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

4.5/5 (87 ratings)
182 pages
1 hour
Apr 2, 2019


Keep Working. Keep Playing. Keep Creating.

In his previous books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work!, both New York Times bestsellers, Austin Kleon gave readers the keys to unlock their creativity and showed them how to become known. Now he offers his most inspiring work yet, with ten simple rules for how to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself—for life.

The creative life is not a linear journey to a finish line, it’s a loop—so find a daily routine, because today is the only day that matters. Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself—sometimes you just have to switch into airplane mode. Keep Going celebrates getting outdoors and taking a walk (as director Ingmar Bergman told his daughter, ”The demons hate fresh air”). Pay attention, and especially pay attention to what you pay attention to. Worry less about getting things done, and more about the worth of what you’re doing. Instead of focusing on making your mark, work to leave things better than you found them.

Keep Going and its timeless, practical, and ethical principles are for anyone trying to sustain a meaningful and productive life.
Apr 2, 2019

About the author

Austin Kleon is the New York Times bestselling author of a trilogy of illustrated books about creativity in the digital age: Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work!, and Keep Going. He’s also the author of Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poems made by redacting the newspaper with a permanent marker. His books have been translated into dozens of languages and have sold over a million copies worldwide. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and sons. Visit him online at www.austinkleon.com.

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Book Preview

Keep Going - Austin Kleon

For Meghan + Owen + Jules

(The Reasons I Keep Going)


I Wrote this Book Because I Needed to Read It

1 Every Day is Ground Hog Day

2 Build a Bliss Station

3 Forget the Noun, Do the Verb

4 Make Gifts

5 The Ordinary + Extra Attention = the Extraordinary

6 Slay the Art Monsters

7 You Are Allowed to Change Your Mind

8 When In Doubt, Tidy Up.

9 Demons Hate Fresh Air

10 Plant Your Garden

I think I need to keep being creative, not to prove anything but because it makes me happy just to do it . . . I think trying to be creative, keeping busy, has a lot to do with keeping you alive.

—Willie Nelson

I Wrote this Book Because I Needed to Read It

A few years ago, I’d wake up every morning, check the headlines on my phone, and feel as if the world had gotten dumber and meaner overnight. Meanwhile, I’d been writing and making art for more than a decade, and it didn’t seem to be getting any easier. Isn’t it supposed to get easier?

Everything got better for me when I made peace with the fact that it might not ever get easier. The world is crazy. Creative work is hard. Life is short and art is long.

Whether you’re burned out, starting out, starting over, or wildly successful, the question is always the same: How to keep going?

This book is a list of ten things that have helped me. I wrote it primarily for writers and artists, but I think the principles apply to anyone trying sustain a meaningful and productive creative life, including entrepreneurs, teachers, students, retirees, and activists. Many of the points are things I’ve stolen from others. I hope you’ll find some things worth stealing, too.

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.

I’ll do the same.

None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.

—Laurie Anderson

Whenever someone starts talking about the creative journey, I roll my eyes.

It sounds too lofty to me. Too heroic.

The only creative journey I seem to go on is the ten-foot commute from the back door of my house to the studio in my garage. I sit down at my desk and stare at a blank piece of paper and I think, Didn’t I just do this yesterday?

When I’m working on my art, I don’t feel like Odysseus. I feel more like Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the hill. When I’m working, I don’t feel like Luke Skywalker. I feel more like Phil Connors in the movie Groundhog Day.

For those of you who haven’t seen it or need your memory refreshed, Groundhog Day is a 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray as Phil Connors, a weatherman who gets stuck in a time loop and wakes up every morning on February 2nd—Groundhog Day—in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog who, depending on if he sees his shadow or not, predicts whether there will be six more weeks of winter. Phil, the weatherman, hates Punxsutawney, and the town becomes a kind of purgatory for him. He tries everything he can think of, but he can’t make it out of town, and he can’t get to February 3rd. Winter, for Phil, is endless. No matter what he does, he still wakes up in the same bed every morning to face the same day.

In a moment of despair, Phil turns to a couple drunks at a bowling alley bar and asks them, What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

It’s the question Phil has to answer to advance the plot of the movie, but it’s also the question we have to answer to advance the plot of our lives.

I think how you answer this question is your art.

Now, I’m not the first person to suggest that Groundhog Day is perhaps the great parable of our time. Harold Ramis, the movie’s director and cowriter, said he got endless letters from priests, rabbis, and monks, all praising the movie’s spiritual message and claiming it for

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What people think about Keep Going

87 ratings / 8 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Great book. Find what you least expect from an artist!
  • (4/5)
    This is a good book with high quality ideas (as always for Kleon). I appreciated the motivation this book is filled with, even if it fades in the last 1/3. Good read for creators!
  • (5/5)

  • (4/5)
    Keep Going is Kleon's third delightful book for inspiring and motivating artists. Full of quotes, drawings and comics, Keep Going presents ten useful key points to keep in mind. You'll learn the value of prioritisation, time management, detaching from the digital world for periods, and more. I loved the quotes, and the notion of a 'bliss stations'. This was a very enjoyable book with great advice. I enjoyed Kleon's style, and plan to get a hard copy of this and his other books.***Many thanks to Netgalley and Workman Publishing for providing an egalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
  • (5/5)
    KEEP GOING by @austinkleon- A Review

    You can't wait around for someone to call you an artist before you make art. You'll never make it.

    Austin Kleon


    So the title of this book goes like,

    " Keep Going: ten ways to stay creative in good times and bad "

    Now lets focus on the word STAY for a while. As we do at times succumb into the self doubt spiral that we are not creative or creative enough.

    But the thing we can focus on is how our stay is in the creative realms.


    So for the stay part, I would definitely recommend to you this book by @austinkleon .


    I had a chance to read the previous two books by Austin kleon ( Steal like an artist and Show your work) and just like them, this book is completely a treat.

    In each chapter you will find more parts which are full of quotations from different people, their experiences, examples from Austin Kleon's own life. You might have heard the steps before, but trust me when you read this book you will have as much fun as if you are reading them for first time. That is the result of the incredible way these are shared here.


    So please do it,
    Devour this book,
    Do your art.


  • (4/5)
    It has some insight and tips for a creative life. worth reading
  • (5/5)
    It’s easy to digest, and i love how simple and straight to the point this book is. Something uplifting to keep on making art!
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    There are books you buy, read and then never revisit again. This is not that book. Will surely reread this every once in a while. Amazing advice and compilation of work!!!

    1 person found this helpful