I am a big fan of Austin Kleon and his books, blog and email newsletter. I have been following his career for several years. I find his approach to creativity — which is part writing, part collage, part drawing — to be very inspiring.
I know some people had a knee-jerk reaction to the title of his first book, Steal Like An Artist but I appreciated that it started the conversation about how to be creatively inspired without crossing the line into mimicry or copyright infringement. There’s also a lot of other good content in Steal Like an Artist so, if you haven’t read it, don’t get hung up on the title and give it a chance.
Since Steal Like An Artist, he’s published two more books in his series of creative inspiration books. The second book in the series is Show Your Work which delves into when, where and how to share your work. It’s a great follow-up to Steal Like An Artist. It focuses on using social media to keep yourself accountable and when its okay to step away.
What I really want to discuss is Austin Kleon’s newest book Keep Going, which could not have been more poignantly titled for 2020 is he had tried. The subtitle is “10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad.” How incredibly timely. He couldn’t have planned the book or title better for 2020 if he’d tried.
Even if you don’t decide to purchase the previous volumes of the series, Keep Going is a book I highly recommend for any creative thinkers who need some advice to, not ironically, keep going in 2020.
Just looking at the back of the book and the chapters sound incredibly relevant: “Everyday is Groundhog Day,” “You Are Allowed to Change Your Mind,” “Demons Hate Fresh Air,” and “Plant Your Garden.” These chapters, in particular, stand out as poignant for anyone living through COVID-19, self-isolating, social distancing, distance learning, zoom meetings, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
Above is one of the pages inside Keep Going. There is advice here that we, as pen-and-paper fans, can certainly support like making lists and writing in a diary. Pandemic-me heartily supports taking naps.
There are lots of little thought provoking nuggets throughout Keep Going. Often, like with many self-help books, the book often tells things we all know deep down. Having the information organized succinctly in ways that help remind us (me, really) what is important and to slow down is so helpful though. I feel like I spend so much time going, going, going… I sometimes forget to ask why or what is the goal or do I like what it is I’m going towards. Kleon’s books always challenge me to consider not just if I’m making but why.
The section “Disconnect from the world…” is valid even in the age of COVID-19. Disconnecting from the world (and in our case, the internet, news, podcasts, etc) is something we need to do, just to regain our sanity and perspective. We have spent too much time these days circling the drain of news despair and clicking refresh on endlessly depressing statistics. Not that our art cannot reflect and react to our frustration and anger but in order to react, we have to step away and formulate our own opinions and perspectives.
These books can be read digitally, but being able to sit down with an analog book, a notebook to jot down passages that most resonate and a favorite beverage and be “disconnected from the world” for a little while really helps to get in-tune with the world — be it the birds in the trees, the texture of the table you where you are sitting, the sound of your own breathing or the cat or dog sitting near you.
If you can’t tell, I highly recommend Keep Going as a paper kick-in-the-pants to regain some creative equilibrium in a very uncertain time.
And, you’re in luck, I have an extra copy of Keep Going for one lucky reader.
TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me what creative challenge/goal you’d like to tackle or overcome. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.
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FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, August 6,2020. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Friday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 5 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.
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