Keep Going
Keep Going

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 (Location 18)

Everything got better for me when I made peace with the fact that it might not ever get easier. (Location 24)

“None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.” —Laurie Anderson (Location 35)

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” (Location 49)

Other than death, there is no finish line or retirement for the creative person. (Location 58)

Whether their latest thing is universally rejected, ignored, or acclaimed, they know they’ll still get up tomorrow and do their work. (Location 62)

“Relying on craft and routine is a lot less sexy than being an artistic genius. But it is an excellent strategy for not going insane.” —Christoph Niemann (Location 76)

When you don’t know what to do next, your routine tells you. (Location 81)

In his book Daily Rituals, Mason Currey catalogs the daily routines of 161 creative individuals: when they woke up, when they worked, what they ate, what they drank, how they procrastinated, and more. It’s a wild collage of human behavior. (Location 86)

“One’s daily routine is a highly idiosyncratic collection of compromises, neuroses, and superstitions,” Currey writes, “built up through trial and error and subject to a variety of external conditions.” (Location 91)

“I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down fifteen things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten.” —Mary Roach (Location 113)

When I’m stuck in the morning and I don’t know what to write about in my diary, I’ll modify the pros-and-cons list. I’ll draw a line down the middle of the page, and in one column I’ll list what I’m thankful for, and in the other column, I’ll write down what I need help with. It’s a paper prayer. (Location 134)

“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 cumbered with your old nonsense.” (Location 147)

Every day is like a blank page: When you’re finished filling it, you can save it, you can crumple it up, or you can slide it into the recycling bin and let it be. Only time will tell you what it was worth. (Location 163)

“Keep your eye on your inner world and keep away from ads and idiots and movie stars.” —Dorothea Tanning (Location 218)

“The phone gives us a lot but it takes away three key elements of discovery: loneliness, uncertainty, and boredom. Those have always been where creative ideas come from.” —Lynda Barry (Location 220)

Creativity is just a tool. Creativity can be used to organize your living room, paint a masterpiece, or design a weapon of mass destruction. If you only aspire to be a “creative,” you might simply spend your time signaling that you are one: wearing designer eyeglasses, typing on your Macbook Pro, and Instagramming photos of yourself in your sun-drenched studio. (Location 270)

“You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO . . . Try to do some BAD work—the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell—you are not responsible for the world—you are only responsible for your work—so DO IT.” (Location 316)

“God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money.” —Quincy Jones (Location 321)

We’re now trained to heap praise on our loved ones by using market terminology. The minute anybody shows any talent for anything, we suggest they turn it into a profession. This is our best compliment: telling somebody they’re so good at what they love to do they could make money at it. (Location 331)

Everyone who’s turned their passion into their breadwinning knows this is dangerous territory. One of the easiest ways to hate something you love is to turn it into your job: taking the thing that keeps you alive spiritually and turning it into the thing that keeps you alive literally. (Location 339)

You must be mindful of what potential impact monetizing your passions could have on your life. You might find that you’re better off with a day job. (Location 342)

Times are always tough economically for artists and freelancers, so define the sort of lifestyle you want to live, budget for your expenses, and draw the line between what you will and won’t do for money. (Location 345)

“Do what you love!” cry the motivational speakers. But I think anybody who tells people to do what they love no matter what should also have to teach a money management course. “Do what you love” + low overhead = a good life. “Do what you love” + “I deserve nice things” = a time bomb. (Location 348)

It’s easy to become as obsessed with online metrics as money. It can then be tempting to use those metrics to decide what to work on next, without taking into account how shallow those metrics really are. An Amazon rank doesn’t tell you whether someone read your book twice and loved it so much she passed it on to a friend. Instagram likes don’t tell you whether an image you made stuck with someone for a month. A stream count doesn’t equal an actual human being showing up to your live show and dancing. (Location 360)

I noticed a long time ago that there’s actually very little correlation between what I love to make and share and the numbers of likes, favorites, and retweets it gets. I’ll often post something I loved making that took me forever and crickets chirp. I’ll post something else I think is sort of lame that took me no effort and it will go viral. If I let those metrics run my personal practice, I don’t think my heart could take it very long. (Location 366)

Download a browser plug-in that makes the numbers disappear from social media. (Location 371)

“Don’t make stuff because you want to make money—it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous—because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people—and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts.” —John Green (Location 377)

Try it: If you’re bummed out and hating your work, pick somebody special in your life and make something for them. (Location 393)

“What I’m really concerned about is reaching one person.” —Jorge Luis Borges (Location 402)

Sister Mary Corita Kent (Location 408)

She stole the General Mills slogan, “The Big G Stands For Goodness,” and made the “G” from the logo seem like it was referring to God. (Location 411)

Really great artists are able to find magic in the mundane. (Location 420)

“It’s always been my philosophy to try to make art out of the everyday and ordinary . . . it never occurred to me to leave home to make art.” —Sally Mann (Location 433)

In an age obsessed with speed, slowing down requires special training. (Location 440)

“Drawing is simply another way of seeing, (Location 448)

“For anyone trying to discern what to do with their life: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU PAY ATTENTION TO. That’s pretty much all the info you need.” —Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Location 470)

Many diarists don’t bother rereading their diaries, but I’ve found that rereading doubles the power of a diary because I’m then able to discover my own patterns, identify what I really care about, and know myself better. (Location 479)

Set up a regular time to pay attention to what you’ve paid attention to. Reread your diary. Flip back through your sketchbook. (Location 484)

Take a quick dip into any one of the thousands of years of art history and you’ll find that, no, actually, plenty of great art was made by jerks, creeps, assholes, vampires, perverts, and worse, all of whom left a trail of victims in their wake. (Location 501)

The world doesn’t necessarily need more great artists. It needs more decent human beings. (Location 524)

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.” (Location 530)

A dip into Henry David Thoreau’s journals paints a portrait of a plant-loving man who is overeducated, underemployed, upset about politics, and living with his parents—he sounds exactly like one of my fellow millennials! (Location 593)

“The disorder of the desk, the floor; the yellow Post-it notes everywhere; the whiteboards covered with scrawl: all this is the outward manifestation of the messiness of human thought.” (Location 600)

The propaganda against clutter and the mania for tidying has been whipped up by TV shows like Hoarders and Storage Wars and countless blogs that fetishize orderly studios and perfect workspaces with “things organized neatly,” culminating in Marie Kondo’s gigantic bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While Kondo’s tips can work wonders on your sock drawer or your kitchen pantry, I have serious doubts about their usefulness to artists. (Location 603)

Note: It depends. Maybe you are an artist who cant think because of the mess around him.

Creativity is about connections, and connections are not made by siloing everything off into its own space. New ideas are formed by interesting juxtapositions, and interesting juxtapositions happen when things are out of place. (Location 609)

Note: It depends.

You’re often most creative when you’re the least productive. (Location 614)

Keep your tools organized and your materials messy. (Location 624)

WHEN IN DOUBT, TIDY UP. (Location 631)

Sleep is an excellent tool for tidying up your brain. (Location 649)


These slogans presuppose that the world is in need of marking or denting or breaking and that the cosmic purpose of human beings is vandalism. Things are already a mess out there. We’ve made enough of a mark on this planet. What we need are fewer vandals and more cleanup crews. We need art that tidies. Art that mends. Art that repairs. (Location 682)

Note: If you wanna make an omlet, you gotta break some eggs.

Almost every morning, rain or shine, my wife and I load our two sons into a red double stroller and we take a three-mile walk around our neighborhood. It’s often painful, sometimes sublime, but it’s absolutely essential to our day. (Location 692)

The list of famous artists, poets, and scientists who took strolls, hikes, and rambles around the city and countryside is practically endless. Wallace Stevens composed poems on his walk back and forth from the insurance agency where he worked. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote many of his books while hiking around lakes. “If I couldn’t walk far and fast,” Charles Dickens wrote of his twenty-mile marathons around London, “I should just explode and perish.” Both Ludwig van Beethoven and Bob Dylan got picked up by the police while wandering the suburbs—Beethoven in nineteenth-century Vienna, Dylan in twenty-first-century New Jersey. Henry David Thoreau, who used to spend four hours a day walking around the woods outside Concord, wrote, “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” (Location 700)

We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. (Location 805)