Who knew that a book about art could motivate a physician. I’m not sure that’s what Austin Kleon had in mind when he wrote, Keep Going – 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, a brief, brilliantly produced book for people who create stuff. It’s a motivating manifesto that puts a lens on a creative way of living. It makes sense that it would motivate those of us in medicine.
Medicine is full of people who make things. These are ‘creatives,’ to use a term that Kleon prefers to avoid. We’ve got cartoonists, designers, poets and writers. And there’s the whole population of those who quietly sketch, ideate and write stuff that never sees the light of day. These are part of medicine’s growing creative class.
Keep Going resonated with me in so many ways. From time suck of social media to the backward logic of website metrics, I’ve read parts of it 2-3 times. And each time I still find relevance in the quotes, examples, and personal stories that Kleon shares.
The first chapter, Every Day is Groundhog Day, struck me in a way. He recounts the part of the 1993 comedy film Groundhog Day where Bill Murray asks two drunks in a bowling alley, “What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing you did mattered.”
How you answer this question, Kleon suggests, is your art.
The world wonders why we have a burnout problem. If our field adopted even a fraction of the mindset embodied in Kleon’s Keep Going, some would begin to prioritize the thing that gets them up in the morning. If our medical culture fostered the human elements that define every one of us we’d all be in a better place.
Beyond something for ‘artists’ Kleon has a way of weaving his advice into something bigger. Keep Going is a story of persistence and passion – a relatable and inspiring message for a world that’s lost its focus. Keep Going goes beyond creativity and delivers a manifesto for life and balance. Austin Kleon’s worldview is worth a peek.
If you make things, anything, you need to read Keep Going.
If you like this you should check out our Creativity Archives. Every post here has tags at the very bottom of the post that help direct you to related material on 33 charts.