Quick Summary of the Book
Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed in your life, it's crucial to think about your days. You need always try your best to work your days to move closer to the person you want to be. The book drives home several points. Worry less about getting things done and worry more about the things that are worth doing. Worry less about making a mark and worry more about leaving things better than you found them. The vital thing to learn here is to keep doing your "verbs," whatever they are.
I read Austin Kleon’s other books before this one and was most excited to read Keep Going. Now that I had this creative spark, I needed to get out of my head and convince myself that even if I think my work sucks, I should keep making stuff, learning from the past. It also taught me that having a routine can help you get your writing in every day. Having a pattern and eliminating distractions from my devices has helped me focus on being more productive so I can find the motivation to keep working.
How the Book Changed My Life
A few months ago, I always woke up, read the news, got depressed, and then found it hard to get motivated to do anything productive that excited me creatively. After implementing some of the steps mapped out in this book, I've become a much happier person. I've even started writing again.
Keep Going, and Austin's two other books (Show Your Work & Steal Like an Artist) helped me feel that creative spark again and post my work on social media. My goal with this blog post is to help you find the motivation you need to keep going.
“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
"Best of all, I think, is that when your days pretty much have the same shape, the days that don't have that shape become even more interesting." - Austin Kleon
"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cambered with your old nonsense." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Take One Day at a Time
We seem to be remorseful or bitter about what happened yesterday and dread what will happen tomorrow. We never really focus on what’s going on today. It’s best to live one day at a time. We don’t have much control over our lives, but we can control what we focus on, what we work on, and how hard we work at it.
Establish a Daily Routine
Right now, I’m working on figuring out my daily routine. I’m figuring out the best way to use my time in the morning before my day job. So far, I’ve established that from 5:30-6:00 is my daily cardio time at the gym. Until 6:30, I do my drive back home, talk with the family, and have some dinner. Then from 6:30 to about 8, I spend time writing/editing a blog post. That time will probably change depending on what I have to do. My day has a solid end at 9 pm, though. 9 pm-10 pm gets dedicated to whatever I want to do (i.e., Play a Video Game, Read, Watch an episode of a tv show, etc.)
Making lists is fantastic because it gets everything out of your head and clears your mental space. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll check out my list, find the most pressing thing, and do it. Make sure you have a spark file so that whenever you get an idea, add it to that file. Eventually, you will have a database of ideas to pick from, so you’re never sitting at your desk thinking about what argument you’re going to use.
Finish Each Day and Be Done With It
No matter how bad your day is, make it to the end of the day so you can see tomorrow. When reflecting on the day, go easy on yourself. Before bed, make a list of things you accomplished today and what you want to get done tomorrow.
I do something similar to this. Every day, I write down the best things that happened to me today and post them on social media. This journal is more to keep a log myself but serves the alternative purpose of letting my followers see what I’ve been up to and some positivity on their timeline.
Disconnect with the World and Connect with Yourself
It’s super healthy to set aside a daily time and (if possible) place to disconnect from the world so that we can be to ourselves. Life gets in the way, but we have to find a sacred place.
You can be Woke Without Waking to the News
It would be best if you seldom read the news first thing in the morning. If you do, you're welcoming anxiety into your life as the first thing you do when you wake up. Many creators like to get work done in the morning because nobody is awake to give you anxiety.
The book's advice that I've found works amazingly well for me was directed toward people who use their phones to wake up. Before you go to bed, plug your phone into an outlet across the room. When you wake up, try not to look at it.
Don't stick your head in the sand; just don't invite that anxiety so early in the morning.
Airplane Mode can be a Way of Life
Turning your devices to airplane mode can be an excellent way for you to focus on yourself and your work. Airplane mode can become a way of life.
Ignore the Numbers
When you share something online, it's easy to become obsessed with metrics and analytics. You may even use those numbers to decide on what to work on next. Try to ignore those numbers, at least now and then.
Pay Attention to What You Pay Attention To
Your attention is precious, which is why everyone wants to steal that from you. Choosing what you pay attention to is what your life and work will be made of.
Keep a diary and pay attention to what you write in it by rereading it. You'll discover your patterns, what you care about, and get to know yourself a lot better. The book recommends setting a time to reread your diary and see what you've given your attention to. When you're able to go back on your work, you'll see an overall view of what you've been up to and what you should do next.
The Change is to be Alive
In today's day and age, we have become trained not to change our minds. To do so would be a sign of defeat and weakness. You are supposed to be on-brand, and you're the worst if you go off-brand. On brand is to be 100% certain of who you are and what you do. If you are an artist, it's tough to learn your brand quickly. Your work should thrive on uncertainty.
I start each project without knowing exactly where I'm going or where I'll end up next. The only way to keep going forward and making art is to be open to possibilities and allow yourself to change.
Unfortunately, with the Internet, you can't go off-brand. The best way to be off-brand is to be offline.
When in Doubt Tidy Up
You should really only tidy up when you're stuck or stalled out. It's productive procrastination (avoiding work by doing other work.).
Tidying can help you get unstuck or generate a new idea for work that you can pursue.
Sleep Tidies the Brain
Sleep quite literally flushes out the junk in your head. Naps also may seem unproductive, but they are a way to tidy your brain and lead to new ideas. The best part about a nap is that when you wake up, for the first 15 seconds, you have no idea where you are. You're just alive.
To Exercise is to Exorcise
It’s important to go outside and take walks to remain active, get away from your work, be offline for a little while, and get your ideas going. So take your partner out on a walk and try to implement it into your daily routine.
When we are glued to our screens, the world always seems way worse. We perceive a ton of people as a troll or a maniac or worse. Yes there are some pretty horrible people out there, but once you step away from the screen, go offline, and take a walk, you’ll notice how much beauty there is. Birds chirping, clouds above you, and people smiling.
This, Too Shall Pass
We are all headed to the same end, including those who desperately want to destroy this planet. They will all leave this world, just like us. The chances of being born are so astronomically small and we don’t know how many we’ll get, so don’t waste the days you get.