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The Most Creative Advice from Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon Creativity

Austin Kleon is known for his newspaper blackouts and this inspiring book trilogy. He also blogs every day and shares a wonderful newsletter full of creative inspiration, bringing his perspective as a “writer who draws.”

Here are my five favorites ideas from Austin Kleon, many of which are inspired by other artists or “stolen” and presented in a unique and interesting way.

1) More Search Less Feed

Many of our online interactions default to content pushed at us, rather than what we actively look for.

When you click around on Twitter or Instagram, your actions allow the algorithm to research you. It learns more about what you will pause on or where your attention can be directed.

I have found that the effort of just asking “what am I looking for?” helps direct my online consumption.

Using this advice I searched for Austin Kleon’s most popular Twitter posts and found this gem:

2) Share What Inspires You

One of my favorite things from Austin Kleon is the view behind the scenes. He posts every day, which means he often shares the things that inspire his process.

I enjoy following along as he collects great ideas from other artists, writers and musicians, which he then incorporates into his blog post or talk or perhaps a new book.

Austin Kleon emphasizes that you just need to make something small each day.

And it’s through that daily collection of things that you end up with something like a book.

3) Explore New Mediums

For a period during the summer of 2020 Austin Kleon made 30 zines in 30 days.

He fit this small challenge into his daily routine and kept going, making somewhere close to 60 or 70 zines.

My favorite zine, #58, called Angry and Curious shares a unique perspective on curiosity, made up from many quotes from other artists and writers.

Austin Kleon also shares his method for turning a piece of paper into a zine (on YouTube).

4) Groundhog Day Approach to Creative Work

The perfect idea doesn’t arrive in your mind through willpower or focus. You show up every day and make space for the best ideas to come out.

Austin Kleon calls this the Groundhog Day method → repeat your simple day over and over and through that, you find amazing new ideas. Choose a daily routine and stick with it!

This post became chapter one in the 2019 book Keep Going.

You don’t know if or when success will come for you. The best thing you can do if you want to be an artist is to set up your life in such a way that you’re sort of insulated from success or failure.

— Austin Kleon

5) Pay Attention to What You Pay Attention To

David Sedaris has a very specific process for noticing what happens around him. He takes notes throughout the day using his pocket notebook. The next morning he types up his stories, adding some more details. And then every few months he prints and binds his stories.

Sedaris finds all of his stories in the bound journals and selects a few to read aloud for audience feedback.

For me, this means writing in a journal every day. And then I often revisit what I’ve written to get an accurate log of what I paid attention to.

Check Out Austin Kleon’s Books!

More Advice to Recent Graduates

** Also applies to People Between Work **

1. Hang out at the Library

Libraries are great! You run into books on the shelf that you would never pick up otherwise.

Just walking into a library always reminds me of the sheer volume of knowledge and ideas and creative stories out there in the world.

2. Take long walks

Books have been written about the power of walking and I try to do this every day. I do my best thinking while on the move.

3. Study Something you Love in Depth

This idea comes from the cartoonist Paul Karasik. Find something you truly love, maybe a song or a movie or a paint or a book. And peel back the layers to understand it fully.

4. Steal old stuff

Instead of stealing from people that are alive, steal from people that are dead.

** You might also like my article Invest in Curiosity **

More Resources

Austin Kleon’s Books

Something Small, Every Day (2013) – Austin Kleon