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Keep Going

10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

By Austin Kleon
15-minute read
Audio available
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon

Full of practical tips, techniques and strategies for fostering creativity, Keep Going (2019) provides readers with a wide variety of ways to persevere in the face of difficulties with their creative work. While the text is written primarily with professional and non-professional artists in mind, the ideas are applicable to anyone whose job or pastime requires creativity. 

  • Artists looking for inspiration  
  • Creative professionals and hobbyists feeling stuck in a rut 
  • Teachers, entrepreneurs, activists and anyone else whose work could use a boost of creativity

Austin Kleon is the New York Times bestselling author of Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work! Together with Keep Going, these books form a trilogy that boasts more than a million copies in print and has been translated into more than two dozen languages. He is also a public speaker whose speaking engagements have included top-tier organizations such as Google and Pixar. In both his books and his public speaking, his work centers on promoting creativity in the modern world. 

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Keep Going

10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

By Austin Kleon
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
Synopsis

Full of practical tips, techniques and strategies for fostering creativity, Keep Going (2019) provides readers with a wide variety of ways to persevere in the face of difficulties with their creative work. While the text is written primarily with professional and non-professional artists in mind, the ideas are applicable to anyone whose job or pastime requires creativity. 

Key idea 1 of 9

Establish a routine to make sure you show up for your work, regardless of how creative you’re feeling. 

Let’s start with a healthy dose of realism. No matter how many tricks you put up your sleeve, you’re always going to experience ups and downs in your creative work. You can promote the ups and mitigate the downs, but your creativity is still going to ebb and flow. You can influence it, but you can’t control it. 

What you can control is whether you show up for your work, ready to receive the current of creativity that comes your way, regardless of its strength. It could turn out to be a mighty rush or a pathetic trickle, but either way, you have to be there in order to harness it as best you can. And you have to keep doing that day after day, metaphorical rain or shine. After all, there’s no chance of having a good work day if you’re not having any work days at all!  

To make sure you show up for your work, there’s a time-tested solution that’s been the key to many creative people’s success: establishing a daily routine. Yes, that means following a work schedule. But it can also mean having certain habits and rituals that help you get into the mood to do your work.  

There’s a wide range of possibilities. Sylvia Plath wrote early in the morning, before her children woke up. Franz Kafka wrote late at night, after his family went to sleep. John Steinbeck sharpened a dozen pencils before sitting down to write. Goethe smelled rotten apples to get his juices flowing. Hey, whatever floats your boat! 

Just remember: it’s your boat you need to float. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Your routine needs to be tailored to your specific needs, circumstances and personality. When do you have time to do your work? Are you a night owl or an early bird? What gets you in the mood? In designing your routine, these are the sorts of questions you’ll have to answer for yourself. 

Now, if you’re a free-spirited creative-type, the regimentation of a routine might seem rather off-putting at first. But look at it this way: the point of a routine isn’t to take your freedom away. To the contrary, it’s to give you the freedom to pursue your creative passions. A routine secures you a regular period of time for creative work, protected from the busyness of the rest of your life.

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