Keep Going: 10 Ways To Stay Creative In Good Times And Bad, by Austin Kleon
The author notes at some point during this book that he began this particular book with a series of blog posts relating to creativity, and that can easily be believed. As a mixture of text with some graphic elements to spice up the materials, the author has clearly done a good job at winning over the audience with a mixture of sound advice and good humor. As someone who has read a lot of books on creativity I can say that most of these books are not very enjoyable to read, not least because of the assumptions and worldviews that people bring to the matter of creativity that serve to be at best problematic. This book, though, is an example of how to succeed at creativity and at writing about it through encouragement rather than flattery. The author obviously has a perspective and it’s not one I entirely agree with, but that is to be expected, and the author’s general focus on encouraging people to be creative despite changes in moods and feelings is one that I appreciate and encourage others to read and to enjoy and appropriate as well in their own lives.
This book is about 200 pages long and is divided into ten chapters, mostly with funny names that deal with somewhat dark truths about creativity. The author begins with an introduction that tells the reader he wrote the book because he needed to read it, which is a surprisingly common reason to write a book. After that the author looks at every day being Groundhog Day as a reminder of the fresh start that we get to work out the same issues over and over again (1) as well as the importance of building a bliss station that encourages one’s creativity (2). After that the author urges action rather than categorizing (3) and the importance of making gifts for others to maintain enthusiasm for creating (4). The author discusses how extra attention makes things extraordinary (5) and that the art monsters of the evils must be slain (6). The author says that one is allowed to change one’s mind (7) and that tidying up can be a good thing to do when one doesn’t know what else to do (8). Finally, the book ends with chapters that discuss how demons hate fresh hair (9) and that it is important to plant one’s garden (10) and view creativity in an organic way.
It can be tough for people to create when things are going badly. I tend to notice for myself that unless I am seriously depressed I can create pretty consistently as I have habits that help me in that regard on a regular basis. The author appears to recognize that this is a possibility as well and that those who have acquired habits of being creative often do so unless there is some severe difficulty. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who think that unless they are properly inspired to create something great that they will not create anything at all, not realizing that one cannot create great things without putting a lot of effort into honing one’s craft through thick and thin and being able to handle the inspirations that come one’s way every now and again. As the author’s focus is on both discipline as well as recovering the open and responsive approach to the world that makes children more creative than adults tend to be, there was a lot to appreciate here. This is in general an enjoyable work and certainly one of the better books when it comes to the habits it wants to encourage in readers.