Whatever you’re an artist or not, « Keep Going » is a go-to book, as « Effortless » from Greg McKeown, which gives you small, easy ideas to implement into your everyday to, yes, I couldn’t resist making a dad joke, keep going.
Book link / Apple Book link
Austin Kleon on The School of Greatness Podcast about what makes great artists 👩🎨
I read this book actually just before « Effortless » to be fair. And that was the perfect book between « Boundaries Boss » from Terri Cole and « Effortless », while reading « Untamed » from Glennon Doyle. It prepared the path to some of « Effortless » ideas, but said in a way anyone would love. It’s simple, easy and clever. And I don’t say this in a bad way, any creative person knows how simple things are so hard to do (but hey, « we can do hard things », can’t we?). It’s both enjoyable for your saoul and for your eyes. It’s designed both ecstatically and structurally to help you and be that guide you keep on your desk, when you’re stuck.
And we all know how we can get stuck when we need to create repetitively, find new way of presenting things, designing things, showing our work, and so our vulnerability. So Austin Kleon gives us tricks. From connecting with people to expand our horizon and see new perspectives on stuff – but not too much because we still need to disconnect to create, putting our phone on airplane mode, creating list of stuff we like – hence my book recommendation section – or simply tidying. On that note I laughed a lot. Because if you’re like me, you have your own sens of tidy, you need some mess to create better, but a very organised mess. By that I mean, in my private space where I create those articles or I draw, I need to be surrounded by stuff I find inspiring or cute, or that remind me people. I have in front of me as I write the Rodin’s Thinker made of rubber material, my Mom brought me back from Paris, books, pens, sticky notes of various shapes and colours, anything that help me with my creative juice. Not very eye pleasing for the minimalist addicts, but so comforting and confortable for me.
And as I speak about my mom, I remember her getting crazy as a teenager when she used to ask me to clean my room, see me unhappily starting and as she would come back few minute (hours?) later, find me reading something in the middle of my stuff. I still do this, and thought until I read that book, I was alone. I mean for my défense, my dear mother would get crazy seeing me doing this and I never spotted anyone else in my family or with the people I lived – am living, doing so. So when I read on that famous tidying chapter, Austin Kleon was the same, I really laughed and even more when he said, despite what Marie Kondo would recommend (it’s looking like you’re not suppose to stop to read while tidying according to her, I must trust Austin Kleon, I never read her and her Netflix show was not my cup of tea). But before you presume my flat is a mess, please acknowledge that we speak here of the spot we need to create, not the rest of the house or flat. And what’s the point with getting stuck with lack of creative ideas?
Well when you tidy, you allow your brain to do something else, rest and focus on something else, not a blank canva. So your brain can rest, because there’s one thing that is so true it’s hard to not have trade mark it before « Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – including you. » Anne Lamott. I put it back below in big. So clever, right?
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – including you.Anne Lamott In Keep Going
So when your brain is so stuck you think you have jelly or yogurt instead of brain matter, unplug, do something else, tidying is an option, especially when you start to get your attention caught by something you start reading that will, as would say Marie Kondo, « « sparkle joy » and most important new connections and ideas.
Yet that’s just a part of the book, and see I’ve done already three paragraphs on it. But as I’ve started this review by speaking as well of « Effortless », there’s another point both Austin Kleon and Greg McKeown have in common, on top of the nightmare it’s for dyslexic people to have both their last names together next to each other, way too many similar sounds and letters – it’s the napping point and the emphase on fun. Kleon says « Sleep is an excellent tool for tidying up your brain » as well as « Your real work is play. ».
We forget this part so much as grown up. Why culture made us forget that play and fun is key in our everyday, in our work. « Accept that work and play can co-exist » says Greg McKeown. Austin Kleon agrees with that idea and gives us few tricks including this one I love: « When nothing’s fun anymore, try to make the worst thing you can. The ugliest drawing. […] Making intentionally bad art is a ton of fun. ». Isn’t it #toolboxworthy?